Neural Circuits, Neural Communication and Behaviour

Dale Lab, Neuroscience Research at the University of Warwick


Imaging chemosensory neurons during behaviour:
Bhandare, A., van de Wiel, J., Roberts, R., Braren, I., Huckstepp, R.T. and Dale, N. (2022) Analyzing the brainstem circuits for respiratory chemosensitivity in freely moving mice. eLife 11, doi: 10.7554/eLife.70671

Cx26 really is a receptor for CO2:
Brotherton, D.H., Savva, C., Ragan, T., Dale, N. and Cameron, A.D. (2022) Conformational changes and CO2-induced channel gating in connexin26. Structure 30, 697-706.e4

Effects of CO2 on Cx26 gap junctions:
Nijjar S., Maddison D., Meigh L., de Wolf E., Rodgers T., Cann M. and Dale N. (2021) Opposing modulation of Cx26 gap junctions and hemichannels by CO2 J Physiol 599, 103-118

Cx26 contributes to control of breathing:
van de Wiel, J., Meigh, L., Bhandare, A., Cook, J., Nijjar, S., Huckstepp, R.T. and Dale, N. (2020) Connexin26 mediates CO2-dependent regulation of breathing via glial cells of the medulla oblongata. Communications Biology 3, 521

Tanycytes activate feeding:
Bolborea, M., Pollatzek, E., Benford, H., Sotelo-Hitschfeld, T. and Dale, N. (2020) Hypothalamic tanycytes generate acute hyperphagia through activation of the arcuate neuronal network. Proc Natl Acad Sci, 201919887, doi:10.1073/pnas.1919887117


The overall theme of our group is how neurons and glial cells 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 of our current areas of focus is on signalling mediated by CO2: what is the molecular mechanism of CO2 detection; how do levels of CO2 vary in the brain; which cells respond to CO2; what mechanisms are CO2 sensitive; and can we link defects of CO2-sensing to human disease?

A second area of work relates to the mechanisms of epilepsy. How do seizures affect important nuclei in the brainstem that control breathing and the heart? Do repeated seizures cause long term changes to these circuits and could this contribute to the risk of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP)?

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.

Technology development

New advances in biology often depend on technical developments that enable new or better measurements to be made. We have developed microelectrode biosensors specific for a number of transmitters to enable better exploration of chemical signalling in the nervous system. Our latest biosensor enables detection of L-aspartate. We are also exploring genetically encoded biosensors for novel analytes that can be expressed in cells in a highly specific manner to provide measurements of unprecedented resolution.

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