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Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas
N. Plastira 100, Vassilika Vouton, PO Box 1385

70013 - Heraklion, Crete

+30-(0)2810-391066 or -65

Job opportunities

Prof Nektarios Tavernarakis
Neurobiology of C. elegans, Neurodegeneration & Necrotic Cell Death, Sensory transduction & Integration, Learning and Memory, Ageing & Energy Metabolism
Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Crete

Research Area

We aim to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying sensory transduction and integration that forms the basis of learning and memory in the nematode C. elegans. DEG/ENaC ion channels have been identified in nematodes, snails, flies and vertebrates including humans, where they serve diverse functions such as ion homeostasis and sensory transduction. Members of the acid-sensing subgroup of DEG/ENaC ion channels (termed ASICs) have been implicated in synaptic plasticity, learning and memory in mammals.

We find that ASIC-1, a novel nematode DEG/ENaC protein and a close homologue of mammalian ASIC is required for conditioning to several chemical attractants, while it is dispensable for chemotaxis. Consistently, this gene is also required for associating the presence of food with the rearing temperature. Our observations indicate that DEG/ENaCs contribute to the capacity of the animal for associative learning. Therefore, ASIC roles in associative learning and memory are conserved from nematodes to mammals, thus, making C. elegans an attractive model in which to dissect the relevant mechanisms.

Please see also:


5 Selected Publications

Kourtis N., Nikoletopoulou V. and Tavernarakis N. (2012) Small heat shock proteins protect from heat stroke-associated neurodegeneration. Nature, 490: 213-218.

Artal-Sanz M. and Tavernarakis N. (2009) Prohibitin couples diapause signaling to mitochondrial energy metabolism during ageing in Caenorhabditis elegans. Nature, 461: 793-797.

Eisenberg T. et al. (2009) Induction of autophagy by spermidine promotes longevity. Nature Cell Biology, 11: 1305-1314.

Syntichaki P. Troulinaki K. and Tavernarakis N. (2007) eIF4E function in somatic cells modulates ageing in Caenorhabditis elegans. Nature, 445: 922-926.

Syntichaki P., Xu K., Driscoll M. and Tavernarakis N. (2002) Specific aspartyl and calpain proteases are required for neurodegeneration in C. elegans. Nature, 419: 939-944.

Fellowships, Awards and Honours

2012                Academic Excellence Prize, Empeirikeion Foundation, Greece
2012                Science Excellence Award, General Secretariat for Research and Technology, Ministry of Education, Greece
2011                Appointed Principal Investigator of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE; Helmholtz Association, Bonn, Germany)
2010                Elected Excellence Professor, Medical School, University of Crete
2009                Elected EMBO Member (European Molecular Biology Organization)
2009                ERC Advanced Investigator Grant Award (European Research Council)
2008                Appointed External Senior Research Fellow, Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies, Freiburg University, Germany
2007                Research Excellence Award, Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas, Greece
2007                Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany
2007                Research Support Award, Empeirikeion Foundation, Greece
2006                Appointed Member, Faculty of 1000 (Biology/Medicine; Section on Cellular Death & Stress Responses)
2005                Academic Prize in Medicine and Biology, Bodossaki Foundation, Greece
2002                EMBO Young Investigator Award (European Molecular Biology Organization)
1996                Long-term Postdoctoral Fellowship, International Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSPO)(until 2000)
2000                Long-term Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Institutes of Health, USA (until 2001)
1995                Long-term Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Institutes of Health, USA (until 1996)
1996                Long-term Postdoctoral Fellowship, State of New Jersey, Commission on Cancer Research Fellow, USA
1995                Ph.D. Excellence Award, University of Crete, Greece
1992                Long-term Doctoral Fellowship, National Fellowship Foundation of Greece (until 1995)
1991                Short-term Visiting Fellowship, National Cancer Institute, Frederick, Maryland, USA
1990                Long-term Graduate Studies Fellowship, Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Crete, Greece,
1989                Dean´s List and First Rank University Graduation Honours Award, Aristotelian University, Thessaloniki, Greece
1987                Dean´s List and Outstanding Annual Performance Award, Aristotelian University, Thessaloniki, Greece (until 1989)
1986                Long-term Undergraduate Studies Fellowship, National Fellowship Foundation of Greece (until 1989)

Technical Expertise