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Indiana University Bloomington

Department of Biology

Faculty & Research

Faculty Profile

W. Dan Tracey

Photo of W. Dan Tracey
Linda and Jack Gill Chair and Associate Professor of Biology
Contact Information
By telephone: ofc 856-2574 / lab 6-2876
ofc MSBII 204 / lab MSBII 250

Tracey Lab

Genome, Cell & Developmental Biology
Research Areas
  • Behavior
  • Developmental Mechanisms and Regulation in Eukaryotic Systems
  • Eukaryotic Cell Biology, Cytoskeleton and Signaling

B.A., SUNY Buffalo, 1991
M.S., Florida International University, 1994
Ph.D., SUNY Stony Brook, 1999
Postdoctoral Fellow, California Institute of Technology, 1999-2004

Research Description

Research in the Tracey laboratory aims to understand the general principles that govern the specification and function of neuronal circuits. We study this problem using the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster whose relatively simplified nervous system must perform many of the same computations that are carried out by our own. Despite its simplified brain, Drosophila perform an array of complex behaviors. Powerful genetic tools of Drosophila enable the dissection of neural circuits with a precision that is not matched in any other model system. Genetically encoded calcium sensors allow us to measure the neuronal activity of identified neurons while neuronal silencers and activators allow us to determine the behavioral consequences of the same activity. Optogenetic tools allow us to activate behaviors via remote control by simply shining light on the animals.  Our primary focus is to use the fly model to identify circuits and genes that function in nociception. These studies lead to a greater understanding pain signaling.  In addition, we are attempting to identify the molecules that are used in neurosensory mechanotransduction, which underlies our sense of touch.  Finally, we are attempting to build trans-synaptic tracers for use in Drosophila.  These tools will enable visualization of interconnected circuits in the brain of flies and may eventually be extended to studies in mammals.

Select Publications
Balboa binds to pickpocket in vivo and is required for mechanical nociception in Drosophila larvae. Mauthner SE, Hwang RY, Lewis AH, Xiao Q, Tsubouchi A, Wang Y, Honjo K, Skene JH, Grandl J, Tracey WD Jr. Curr Biol. 2014 Dec 15;24(24):2920-5.  [article]
Larval defense against attack from parasitoid wasps requires nociceptive neurons. Robertson JL, Tsubouchi A, Tracey WD. PLoS One. 2013 Oct 25;8(10):e78704. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0078704.  [article]
Pagadala, P., C.K. Park, S. Bang, Z.Z. Xu, R.G. Xie, T. Liu, B.X. Han, W.D. Tracey, Jr., F. Wang, and R.R. Ji, Loss of NR1 subunit of NMDARs in primary sensory neurons leads to hyperexcitability and pain hypersensitivity: involvement of Ca(2+)-activated small conductance potassium channels. J Neurosci, 2013. 33(33): p. 13425-30.  [article]
Stewart, A., A. Tsubouchi, M.M. Rolls, W.D. Tracey, and N.T. Sherwood, Katanin p60-like1 promotes microtubule growth and terminal dendrite stability in the larval class IV sensory neurons of Drosophila. J Neurosci, 2012. 32(34): p. 11631-42.  [article]
Tsubouchi, A., J.C. Caldwell, and W.D. Tracey, Dendritic filopodia, Ripped Pocket, NOMPC, and NMDARs contribute to the sense of touch in Drosophila larvae. Curr Biol, 2012. 22(22): p. 2124-34.
Hwang, R.Y., N.A. Stearns, and W.D. Tracey, The ankyrin repeat domain of the TRPA protein painless is important for thermal nociception but not mechanical nociception. PLoS One, 2012. 7(1): p. e30090.  [article]
Schwartz, N.U., L. Zhong, A. Bellemer, and W.D. Tracey, Egg laying decisions in Drosophila are consistent with foraging costs of larval progeny. PLoS One, 2012. 7(5): p. e37910.  [article]
Zhong, L., A. Bellemer, H. Yan, H. Ken, R. Jessica, R.Y. Hwang, G.S. Pitt, and W.D. Tracey, Thermosensory and nonthermosensory isoforms of Drosophila melanogaster TRPA1 reveal heat-sensor domains of a thermoTRP Channel. Cell Rep, 2012. 1(1): p. 43-55.  [article]
Honjo, K., R.Y. Hwang, and W.D. Tracey, Jr., Optogenetic manipulation of neural circuits and behavior in Drosophila larvae. Nat Protoc, 2012. 7(8): p. 1470-8.  [article]
Zhong, L., R.Y. Hwang, and W.D. Tracey, Pickpocket is a DEG/ENaC protein required for mechanical nociception in Drosophila larvae. Curr Biol, 2010. 20(5): p. 429-34.  [article]
Caldwell, J.C. and W.D. Tracey, Jr., Alternatives to mammalian pain models 2: using Drosophila to identify novel genes involved in nociception. Methods Mol Biol, 2010. 617: p. 19-29.  [article]
Hwang, R.Y., L. Zhong, Y. Xu, T. Johnson, F. Zhang, K. Deisseroth, and W.D. Tracey, Nociceptive neurons protect Drosophila larvae from parasitoid wasps. Curr Biol, 2007. 17(24): p. 2105-16.  [article]
Al-Anzi, B., W.D. Tracey, Jr., and S. Benzer, Response of Drosophila to wasabi is mediated by painless, the fly homolog of mammalian TRPA1/ANKTM1. Curr Biol, 2006. 16(10): p. 1034-40.  [article]
W.D. Tracey Jr, Wilson RI, Laurent G, Benzer S. painless, a Drosophila gene essential for nociception. Cell. 2003 Apr 18;113(2):261-73.  [article]

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