Adriano Senatore

Associate Professor/ Associate Chair, Research

Research | Lab Positions | Selected Publications


We seek to understand the functional properties, evolution and cellular physiology of several ion channels with important roles in the nervous system:

1) Voltage-gated calcium channels, responsible for coupling membrane excitation with secretion of neurotransmitters at the nerve terminal, and contraction in muscle.

2) DEG/ENaC sodium channels, including proton- and peptide-gated isotypes, involved in sensing extracellular pH, pain signaling, learning and memory, and synaptic transmission.

3) Ionotropic glutamate receptors, gated by the neurotransmitters glutamate and/or glycine, which play important roles in excitatory synaptic transmission.
4) The sodium leak channel NALCN, involved in circadian rhythm, neural excitability, and sensitivity to anesthetics.

An animal of particular interest to us is the seawater invertebrate Trichoplax adhaerens, which lacks neurons and muscle, yet possesses most genes required for electrochemical signaling in the nervous system, and conducts motile behaviors including feeding, chemotaxis, gravitaxis and phototaxis. We and others have shown that Trichoplax uses secreted peptides, akin to neuropeptides, to co-ordinate its various cell types for motile behavior.

Researchers in the lab integrate a broad range of techniques including behavioral analysis, microscopy, molecular biology, patch clamp electrophysiology, cell culture, proteomics, genomics/transcriptomics and bioinformatics.

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Lab Positions

We are currently recruiting graduate students. For inquiries, please email

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Selected Articles

(*Corresponding author)

29. Piekut, T., Wong, Y. Y., Walker, S. E., Smith, C. L., Gauberg, J., Harracksingh, A. N., Lowden, C., Novogradac, B., Cheng, H-Y. M., Spencer, G. E. and Senatore, A.* (2020) Early metazoan origin and multiple losses of a novel clade of RIM pre-synaptic calcium channel scaffolding protein homologues. Genome Biology and Evolution

28. Elkhatib, W., Smith, C. L. and Senatore, A.* (2019) A Na+ leak channel cloned from Trichoplax adhaerens extends pH and Ca2+ sensing for the DEG/ENaC family close to the base of Metazoa. The Journal of Biological Chemistry 294, 16320-16336.

27. Tamvacakis, A. N., Senatore, A., and Katz, P. S. (2018) Single neuron serotonin receptor subtype gene expression correlates with behavior within and across three molluscan species. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 285: 20180971.

26. Kozma, M. T., Schmidt, M., Ngo-Vu, H., Sparks, S. D., Senatore, A., and Derby, C. D. (2018) Chemoreceptor proteins in the Caribbean spiny lobster, Panulirus argus: Expression of Ionotropic Receptors, Gustatory Receptors, and TRP channels in two chemosensory organs and brain. PLoS ONE 13(9):e0203935.

25. Cook, G. M., Gruen, A. E., Morris, J., Pankey, M. S., Senatore, A., Katz, P. S., Watson, W. H., and Newcomb, J. M. (2018) Sequences of clock proteins in nudibranch mollusks Hermissenda crassicornis, Melibe leonina, and Tritonia diomedea. The Biological Bulletin 234(3):207-218.

24. Senatore, A., Reese, T. S., and Smith, C. L. (2017) Neuropeptidergic integration of behavior in Trichoplax adhaerens, an animal without synapses. Journal of Experimental Biology 220(18): 3381–3390.

23.    Smith, C. L., Abdallah, S., Wong, Y. Y., Le, P., Harracksingh, A. N., Artinian, L., Tamvacakis, A. N., Rehder, V., Reese, T. S., and Senatore, A.* (2017) Evolutionary insights into T-type Ca2+ channel structure, function and ion selectivity from the Trichoplax adhaerens homologue. Journal of General Physiology 149 (4): 483.

22.    Senatore, A.*, Raiss, H., Le, P. (2016) Physiology and evolution of voltage-gated calcium channels in early diverging animal phyla: Cnidaria, Placozoa, Porifera and Ctenophora. Frontiers in Physiology DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2016.00481.

21.    Tamvacakis, A. N., Senatore, A., and Katz, P. S. (2015) Identification of genes related to learning and memory in the brain transcriptome of the mollusc, Hermissenda crassicornis. Learning and Memory 16;22(12): 617-21.

20.    Senatore, A., Edirisinghe, N., and Katz, P. (2015) Deep mRNA Sequencing of the Tritonia diomedea Brain Transcriptome Provides Access to Gene Homologues for Neuronal Excitability, Synaptic Transmission and Peptidergic Signalling. PLoS ONE 10(2): e0118321.

19.    Derby, C. D., Kozma, M. T., Senatore, A., Schmidt, M. (2015) Molecular Mechanisms of Reception and Perireception in Crustacean Chemoreception: A Comparative Review. Chemical Senses 41(5):381-98.

18.    Senatore, A., and Spafford, J.D. (2015) Molecular physiology and pathology of voltage-gated T-type calcium channels. (Chapter in: T-type calcium channels in basic and clinical science (Springer): pages 3-17).

17.    Senatore, A., Guan, W., Boone, A. N., Spafford, J. D. (2014) T-type channels become highly permeable to sodium ions using an alternative extracellular turret region (S5-P) outside the selectivity filter. The Journal of Biological Chemistry 289(17):11952-69. Highlighted as paper of the week, among the top 2% of papers published in JBC in 2014 with respect to “significance and overall importance”.

16.    Senatore, A., Boone, A.N., Monteil, A., Chemin, J., and Spafford, J.D. (2014) Gd3+ and Calcium Sensitive, Sodium Leak Currents Are Features of Weak Membrane-Glass Seals in Patch Clamp Recordings. PLoS ONE 9(6):e98808.

15.    Senatore, A., Guan, W., and Spafford, J.D. (2014) Cav3 T-type channels: Regulators for gating, membrane expression and cation selectivity. Pfluger Archives – European Journal of Physiology (466):645-660.

14.    Senatore, A., Monteil, A., van Minnen, J., Smit, A. B., Spafford, J. D. (2013) NALCN ion channels have alternative selectivity filters resembling calcium channels or sodium channels. PLoS ONE 8(1):e55088.

13.    Senatore, A., Spafford, J. D. (2013) A uniquely adaptable pore is consistent with NALCN being an ion sensor. Channels Austin 7(2):60-8.

12.    Senatore, A., Zhorov, B., Spafford, J. D. (2012) Cav3 T-type Calcium Channels. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Membrane Transport and Signaling 1:467–491. doi: 10.1002/wmts.41.

11.    Trobacher, C.P., Senatore, A., Holley, C., Greenwood, J.S. (2012) Induction of a ricinosomal-protease and programmed cell death in tomato endosperm by gibberellic acid. Planta 237(3):665-79.

10.    Senatore, A., Spafford, J. D. (2012) Gene Transcription and Splicing of T-Type Channels are Evolutionarily-Conserved Strategies for Regulating Channel Expression and Gating. PLoS ONE 7(6):e37409.

9.    Senatore, A., Boone, A. N., Lam, S., Dawson, T. F.., Zhorov, B. S., Spafford, J. D. (2011) Mapping of dihydropyridine (isradipine) binding residues in a less sensitive invertebrate L-type calcium channel (LCav1). Channels Austin 5(2):173-187.

8.    Senatore, A., Boone, A. N., Spafford, J. D. (2011) Optimized Transfection Strategy for Expression and Electrophysiological Recording of Recombinant Voltage-Gated Ion Channels in HEK-293T Cells. The Journal of Visualized Experimentation 19(47):2314.

7.    Senatore, A., Spafford, J. D. (2010) Transient and big are key features of an invertebrate T-type channel (LCav3) from the central nervous system of Lymnaea stagnalis. The Journal of Biological Chemistry 285(10):7447-7458.

6.    Huang, X., Senatore, A., Dawson, T. F., Quan, Q., Spafford, J. D. (2010) G proteins modulate invertebrate synaptic calcium channel (LCav2) differently from the classical voltage-dependent regulation of mammalian Cav2.1 and Cav2.2 channels. The Journal of Experimental Biology 213(12):2094-103.

5.    Senatore, A., Trobacher, C. P., Greenwood, J. S. (2009) Ricinosomes predict programmed cell death leading to anther dehiscence in tomato. Plant Physiology 149(2):775-790.

4.    Zhang, Y., Helm, J. S., Senatore, A., Spafford, J. D., Kaczmarek, L. K., Jonas, E. A. (2008) PKC- induced intracellular trafficking of Cav2 precedes its rapid recruitment to the plasma membrane. The Journal of Neuroscience (10):2601-2612.

3.    Senatore, A., Spafford, J.D. (2008) Calcium channels: regulation of gene transcription. Encyclopedia of Neuroscience M.D. Binder, N. Hirokawa, U. Windhorst, and M.C. Hirsch. First edition. New York, Springer.

2.    Pham, P. H., Senatore, A., Spafford, J. D. (2008) Ion channels: from development to disease. Encyclopedia of Neuroscience M.D. Binder, N. Hirokawa, U. Windhorst, and M.C. Hirsch. First edition. New York, Springer.

1.    Trobacher, C. P., Senatore, A., Greenwood. J. S. (2006) Masterminds or Minions?  Cysteine proteinases in plant programmed cell death. Canadian Journal of Botany (84):651-667.

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