Adriano Senatore

Associate Professor



CSB Appointment


Research Areas

Animal Biology, Bioinformatics / Computational Biology, Cell Biology, Evolutionary Biology, Genetics / Genomics, Molecular Biology, Neurobiology


Ph.D. University of Waterloo 2012
M.Sc. University of Guelph 2006

Primary Undergraduate Department

Biology, UTM

Graduate Programs

Cell & Systems Biology

Research Description

Ion channels and neurotransmitter receptors are complex and dynamic proteins that are crucial for neural and synaptic signaling, and their dysfunction is associated with an array of human diseases.

Much of what we know about the function of these genes comes from work done in select organisms including rodents, fruit flies, nematode worms and bacteria. However, we know little about how and when their molecular attributes came to be, and how they compare broadly among distantly related animals. Such an understanding is important as it can delineate some of their core molecular features, as well as guide interpretations about what can and cannot be inferred across model organisms.

In the Senatore lab, we explore the functional, physiological and evolutionary properties of:

  1. Voltage-gated Ca2+ channels, responsible for neurotransmitter release and muscle contraction.
  2. Neuropeptide and proton-gated Na+ channels (i.e. DEG/ENaC channels), involved in pain signaling, learning and memory, and synaptic transmission.
  3. Ionotropic glutamate receptor homologues of NMDA, AMPA and Kainite receptors, the major drivers of excitatory synaptic transmission in the brain.
  4. The sodium leak channel NALCN, involved in circadian rhythm, neural excitability, and sensitivity to anesthetics.

A central subject for us is the fascinating early-diverging animal Trichoplax adhaerens, which lacks neurons and synapses but bears most genes required for neural/synaptic signaling. Interestingly, despite these absences, we and others have shown that Trichoplax can coordinate its various cell types for locomotive behavior such as social feeding, chemotaxis and phototaxis.

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

Contact Information

Office: DV3033

Mailing Address

Department of Biology
University of Toronto
3359 Mississauga Road
Mississauga, ON L5L 1C6

Visit lab’s website

Recent News

Excellence and excitement at CSB Research Day 2024

The wide variety of cutting-edge science in the Department of Cell & Systems Biology was on full display in the distinguished halls of Hart House…

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Congratulations to CSB’s Graduate Student Award Recipients!

Congratulations to our Graduate Students who earned recognition for their accomplishments at our Graduate Student Awards on December 19th, 2022!…

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Hone-Buske Award winner Julia Gauberg identifies presynaptic channel homologues in ancient animal

The Christine Hone-Buske award is given each year to a CSB graduate student who has produced an outstanding paper in their field. This year, the…

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Wong, Y. Y., Phuong, L., Elkhatib, W., Piekut, T.  and Senatore, A. (2019) Transcriptome profiling of Trichoplax adhaerens highlights its digestive epithelium and a rich set of genes for fast electrogenic and slow neuromodulatory cellular signaling. Preprint 10.21203/rs.2.14504/v1.


Early Metazoan Origin and Multiple Losses of a Novel Clade of RIM Presynaptic Calcium Channel Scaffolding Protein Homologs

Piekut T, Wong YY, Walker SE, Smith CL, Gauberg J, Harracksingh AN, Lowden C, Novogradac BB, Cheng HM, Spencer GE, Senatore A, Hoffmann F
2020, Genome Biology and Evolution, 10.1093/gbe/evaa097

Context-Dependent Role of miR-124 in Retinoic Acid-Induced Growth Cone Attraction of Regenerating Motorneurons

Walker SE, Senatore A, Carlone RL, Spencer GE
2020, Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, 10.1007/s10571-020-00982-4

Conserved biophysical features of the CaV2 presynaptic Ca2+ channel homologue from the early-diverging animal Trichoplax adhaerens

Gauberg J, Abdallah S, Elkhatib W, Harracksingh AN, Piekut T, Stanley EF, Senatore A
2020, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 10.1074/jbc.RA120.015725

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A Na+ leak channel cloned from Trichoplax adhaerens extends extracellular pH and Ca2+ sensing for the DEG/ENaC family close to the base of Metazoa

Elkhatib W, Smith CL, Senatore A
2019, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 10.1074/jbc.RA119.010542

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Sequences of Circadian Clock Proteins in the Nudibranch Molluscs Hermissenda crassicornis, Melibe leonina, and Tritonia diomedea

Cook GM, Gruen AE, Morris J, Pankey MS, Senatore A, Katz PS, Watson WH, Newcomb JM
2018, The Biological Bulletin, 10.1086/698467

Chemoreceptor proteins in the Caribbean spiny lobster, Panulirus argus: Expression of Ionotropic Receptors, Gustatory Receptors, and TRP channels in two chemosensory organs and brain

Renou M, Kozma MT, Schmidt M, Ngo-Vu H, Sparks SD, Senatore A, Derby CD
2018, PLOS ONE, 10.1371/journal.pone.0203935

Single neuron serotonin receptor subtype gene expression correlates with behaviour within and across three molluscan species

Tamvacakis AN, Senatore A, Katz PS
2018, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 10.1098/rspb.2018.0791

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Evolutionary insights into T-type Ca2+ channel structure, function, and ion selectivity from the Trichoplax adhaerens homologue

Smith CL, Abdallah S, Wong YY, Le P, Harracksingh AN, Artinian L, Tamvacakis AN, Rehder V, Reese TS, Senatore A
2017, Journal of General Physiology, 10.1085/jgp.201611683

Neuropeptidergic integration of behavior inTrichoplax adhaerens, an animal without synapses

Senatore A, Reese TS, Smith CL
2017, The Journal of Experimental Biology, 10.1242/jeb.162396

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Physiology and Evolution of Voltage-Gated Calcium Channels in Early Diverging Animal Phyla: Cnidaria, Placozoa, Porifera and Ctenophora

Senatore A, Raiss H, Le P
2016, Frontiers in Physiology, 10.3389/fphys.2016.00481

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Identification of genes related to learning and memory in the brain transcriptome of the mollusc, Hermissenda crassicornis

Tamvacakis AN, Senatore A, Katz PS
2015, Learning & memory (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.), 22, 617-21, 26572652

Deep mRNA sequencing of the Tritonia diomedea brain transcriptome provides access to gene homologues for neuronal excitability, synaptic transmission and peptidergic signalling

Senatore A, Edirisinghe N, Katz PS
2015, PloS one, 10, e0118321, 25719197

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Gd3+ and calcium sensitive, sodium leak currents are features of weak membrane-glass seals in patch clamp recordings

Boone AN, Senatore A, Chemin J, Monteil A, Spafford JD
2014, PloS one, 9, e98808, 24945283

T-type channels become highly permeable to sodium ions using an alternative extracellular turret region (S5-P) outside the selectivity filter

Senatore A, Guan W, Boone AN, Spafford JD
2014, The Journal of biological chemistry, 289, 11952-69, 24596098

Cav3 T-type channels: regulators for gating, membrane expression, and cation selectivity

Senatore A, Guan W, Spafford JD
2014, Pflügers Archiv : European journal of physiology, 466, 645-60, 24515291

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A uniquely adaptable pore is consistent with NALCN being an ion sensor

Senatore A, Spafford JD
2013, Channels (Austin, Tex.), 7, 60-8, 23442378

NALCN ion channels have alternative selectivity filters resembling calcium channels or sodium channels

Senatore A, Monteil A, van Minnen J, Smit AB, Spafford JD
2013, PloS one, 8, e55088, 23383067

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Induction of a ricinosomal-protease and programmed cell death in tomato endosperm by gibberellic acid

Trobacher CP, Senatore A, Holley C, Greenwood JS
2013, Planta, 237, 665-79, 23086343

Gene transcription and splicing of T-type channels are evolutionarily-conserved strategies for regulating channel expression and gating

Senatore A, Spafford JD
2012, PloS one, 7, e37409, 22719839

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Mapping of dihydropyridine binding residues in a less sensitive invertebrate L-type calcium channel (LCa v 1)

Senatore A, Boone A, Lam S, Dawson TF, Zhorov B, Spafford JD
2011, Channels (Austin, Tex.), 5, 173-87, 21487241

Optimized transfection strategy for expression and electrophysiological recording of recombinant voltage-gated ion channels in HEK-293T cells

Senatore A, Boone AN, Spafford JD
2011, Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE, 21304463

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G-proteins modulate invertebrate synaptic calcium channel (LCav2) differently from the classical voltage-dependent regulation of mammalian Cav2.1 and Cav2.2 channels

Huang X, Senatore A, Dawson TF, Quan Q, Spafford JD
2010, The Journal of experimental biology, 213, 2094-103, 20511524

Transient and big are key features of an invertebrate T-type channel (LCav3) from the central nervous system of Lymnaea stagnalis

Senatore A, Spafford JD
2010, The Journal of biological chemistry, 285, 7447-58, 20056611

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Ricinosomes predict programmed cell death leading to anther dehiscence in tomato

Senatore A, Trobacher CP, Greenwood JS
2009, Plant physiology, 149, 775-90, 19098090

PKC-induced intracellular trafficking of Ca(V)2 precedes its rapid recruitment to the plasma membrane

Zhang Y, Helm JS, Senatore A, Spafford JD, Kaczmarek LK, Jonas EA
2008, The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 28, 2601-12, 18322103

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