Dr Dean Semmens
Postdoctoral Research Assistant
Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgTelephone: +44 (0)20 7882 3311Room Number: Room 6.18, Fogg Building
Neuropeptides are small signalling molecules that are produced and secreted by neurons that bind to receptor proteins, typically G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), on target neurons. The binding of a neuropeptide to its cognate receptor triggers intracellular cascades that ultimately lead to the regulation of a broad range of physiological processes and behaviours in animals found throughout the animal kingdom.
My research focuses on understanding the neurobiology and evolution of neuropeptide signalling systems in the echinoderms – primarily utilising the starfish A. rubens as a model system. The echinoderms are classified as deuterostomian invertebrates and thus form an "intermediate" to bridge research on model protostomian invertebrates (e.g. D. melanogaster and C. elegans) and the vertebrates. Therefore, as a “missing link”, the echinoderms provide important insights into the evolution of neuropeptide signalling systems from the common ancestor of all bilaterian animals.
I am currently focused on utilising the SALMFamide family of neuropeptides in the starfish A. rubens as a model system to investigate the functional significance of neuropeptide “cocktails” that are derived from the same precursor protein – an evolutionarily ancient phenomena that is, to date, poorly understood across the animal kingdom.
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