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Professor of Zoology

Jan Pielage



Curriculum vitae:

  • 1993 – 1999  Studies of Biology at the University of Kaiserslautern, the University College London and the University of Münster
  • 1999 – 2002  PhD student in the laboratory of Christian Klämbt at the Department of Neurobiology at the University of Münster
  • 2003 – 2007  Postdoc in the laboratory of Grae Davis at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco, USA
  • 2008 – 2016  Independent Junior Group leader at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland
  • 2016 – today Professor of Zoology and Neurobiology (W3), Faculty of Biology, University of Kaiserslautern. Head of the Department.

Awards, Fellowships, Memberships:

  • 1999 – 2002 Boehringer Ingelheim PhD fellowship
  • 2003 Award for best PhD thesis in Developmental Biology in Germany 2001-2002 (German Society for Developmental Biology)
  • 2005 – 2007 Postdoctoral Fellowship from the DFG
  • 2011 – today Member JEDI (Junior European Drosophila Investigators)
  • 2014 – today Member Society of Neuroscience

Major Research Interest:

The main focus of our research group is the identification of the molecular mechanisms controlling synapse formation, function and stability.

Neuronal circuits are formed through synaptic connections between defined populations of neurons. The regulated assembly and disassembly of synaptic connections ensures precise connectivity during development and during plasticity of the mature circuit. In contrast, the inappropriate loss of synaptic connections leads to a disruption of neuronal circuits and to progressive neurodegenerative disorders. Therefore, identification of the molecular mechanisms controlling synaptic connectivity is essential for our understanding of neuronal circuit function and plasticity in development and disease.

We are combining three complementary systems to gain insights into the principles underlying synapse and neuronal circuit development. We use the Drosophila neuromuscular junction (NMJ) as a model system to identify the molecular and cellular mechanisms controlling synapse formation, function and stability at the level of individual synapses. In addition, we use the adult taste circuit as a complementary model system to unravel how these synaptic mechanisms contribute to the assembly and function of complex neuronal circuits. Finally, we address the relevance of synaptic connectivity and function for learning and memory using olfactory conditioning in the adult fly as an assay.

Together these complementary approaches enable us to identify the cellular principles and mechanisms underlying synapse formation and plasticity with important implications for neuronal circuit function and ultimately animal behavior in development and disease.

Selected Publications

Schwarz O, Bohra AA, Liu X, Reichert H, VijayRaghavan K, Pielage J (2017) Motor control of Drosophila feeding behavior.
Elife 17;6 10.7554/eLife.19892.

Pielage J (2016) Induced knockouts provide insights into human L1 syndrome.
J Exp Med 213:466

Stephan R, Goellner B, Moreno E, Frank CA, Hugenschmidt T, Genoud C, Aberle H, Pielage J (2015) Hierarchical microtubule organization controls axonal caliber and transport and determines synaptic structure and connectivity.
Dev Cell 33:5-21

Siegenthaler D, Enneking EM, Moreno E, Pielage J (2015) L1CAM/Neuroglian controls the axon-axon interactions establishing layered and lobular mushroom body architecture.
J Cell Biol 208:1003-1018

Bulat V, Rast M, Pielage J (2014) Presynaptic CK2 promotes synapse organization and stability by targeting Ankyrin2.
J Cell Biol, 204:77-94

Enneking E, Kudumala SR, Moreno E, Stephan R, Boerner J, Godenschwege TA, Pielage J (2013) Transsynaptic coordination of synaptic growth, function, and stability by the L1-type CAM neuroglian.
PLOS Biology, 11: e1001537

Pielage J*, Bulat V, Zuchero JB, Fetter RD, Davis GW* (2011) Hts/Adducin controls synaptic elaboration and elimination.
Neuron 69:1114-1131

Frank CA*, Pielage J*, Davis GW (2009) A presynaptic homeostatic signaling system composed of the Eph receptor, Ephexin, Cdc42 and Cav2.1 calcium channels.
Neuron 61:556-569

Pielage J, Cheng L, Fetter RD, Carlton PM, Sedat JW, Davis GW (2008) A presynaptic giant Ankyrin stabilizes the NMJ through regulation of presynaptic microtubules and transsynaptic cell adhesion.
Neuron 58:195-209


Detailed publications