Neural Circuits, Neural Communication and Behaviour

Dale Lab, Neuroscience Research at the University of Warwick


Evolution of CO2 sensitivity in Cx26:

Dospinescu, V.M., Nijjar, S., Spanos, F., Cook, J., de Wolf, E., Biscotti, M.A., Gerdol, M. and Dale, N. (2019) Structural determinants of CO2-sensitivity in the β connexin family suggested by evolutionary analysis. Communications Biology 2, Article number: 331

Alternative splicing of mutant Cx26:

Cook, J., de Wolf, E. and Dale, N. (2019) Cx26 keratitis ichthyosis deafness syndrome mutations trigger alternative splicing of Cx26 to prevent expression and cause toxicity in vitro. Royal Society Open Science

Elevated purines in stroke patients:

Dale, N., Tian, F., Sagoo, R., Phillips, N., Imray, C. and Roffe, C. (2019) Point-of-care measurements reveal release of purines into venous blood of stroke patients. Purinergic Signalling

Real time imaging of brainstem neurons:

Bhandare, A., Huckstepp, R. and Dale, N. (2018) Analyzing the brainstem circuits for respiratory chemosensitivity in freely moving mice. bioRxiv

Purines as an indicator of brain ischaemia:

Tian, F., Bibi, F., Dale, N. and Imray C.H.E. (2017) Blood purine measurements as a rapid real-time indicator of reversible brain ischaemia. Purinergic Signalling


The overall theme of our group is how neurons communicate with each other to achieve the desired neural function. Our work splits into two major areas: Neurophysiology and Technology development.

Neurophysiological studies

Our interests presently concentrate around the investigation of chemical signalling in the brain. One common theme is purinergic signalling by ATP and adenosine and its roles in several different functional contexts such as: centrally mediated chemosensitive reflexes involved in the control of breathing and arousal; signalling by hypothalamic tanycytes in the context of the control of body weight and food intake; homeostatic control of sleep; endogenous neuroprotective mechanisms in the brain; and during early development. Our work goes from structural biology of proteins through to study of function in physiological systems. We use a combination of electrophysiological, imaging and biosensing methods to study these problems.

Some of our work on CO2 sensing and hypothalamic tanycytes has featured in popular articles in Physiology News.

Technology development

We have an active program to provide novel analytical tools for neuroscience research. In particular we are developing microelectrode biosensors specific for a number of transmitters to enable better exploration of chemical signalling in the nervous system. We have concentrated on microelectrode biosensors for the purines and have formed the Warwick Biosensors Group to further this aim. We have also developed biosensors for other analytes (such as glutamate, lactate, D-serine, acetylcholine) and have developed a range of highly selective biosensors for clinical diagnostic purposes. This latter work is linked to a spin out company Sarissa Biomedical Ltd specifically devoted to the commercialization of our biosensors and the development of diagnostic tools.

Banner illustration: puncta of Cx26 (red) on the surface of astrocytes (green) at the ventral surface of the medulla oblongata.