Adriano Senatore

Start Year: 2015
Starting Institution: University of Toronto Mississauga
Current Institution: University of Toronto Mississauga
Project Title: Evaluating the roles of electrical excitability and voltage-gated calcium channels in Trichoplax adhaerens, an enigmatic animal that lacks neurons and muscle.

Voltage-gated calcium channels (Cav channels) play key roles in translating electrical signals in neurons and muscle into biochemical processes. Interestingly, the enigmatic basal animal Trichoplax adhaerens lacks neurons and muscle, yet it harbors a nearly full complement of genes required for electrical signaling and synaptic electrochemical communication. This includes genes for the three types of Cav channels: 1) a pre-synaptic secretion-associated Cav2 channel, 2) a post-synaptic (neuromuscular junction), contraction-associated Cav1 channel, and 3) a low threshold rhythm-generating Cav3 channel. As a Grass Fellow, I will seek to explore the unknown electrical properties of Trichoplax cells, and to determine the contributions of Cav channels to Trichoplax physiology.