alex keene
Alex Keene

Professor & Department Head

Keene Lab Website

Fax: 979-845-2891
Phone: 458-1365

3258 TAMU
Butler Hall Rm 100

Butler Hall Rm 201

Joined the Department in 2021

  • B.Sc. University of Massachusetts-Amherst, 2002
  • Ph.D. Biomedical Sciences, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 2006

Neural regulation of sleep, appetite, and energy homeostasis is critical to an animal’s survival and under stringent evolutionary pressure. Flies, like mammals, suppress sleep when starved, providing a system to interrogate interactions between sleep and metabolism. We have performed a large genetic screens to identify novel regulators of sleep-metabolism interactions, and are currently investigating the genes and neural circuits that integrate these processes. As a complementary approach, we have been working to establish Mexican cavefish as a model for the evolution of sleep in a nutrient-poor environment. We have generated comparative brain atlases and whole-brain functional imaging approaches that have identified a reorganization of the hypothalamus and increased slow wave sleep intensity in cavefish. Together this system has potential to identify conserved genetic, physiological, and anatomical mechanisms associated with variable sleep

  1. Lloyd, E, Rastogi, A, Holtz, N, Aaronson, B, Craig Albertson, R, Keene, AC et al.. Ontogeny and social context regulate the circadian activity patterns of Lake Malawi cichlids. J Comp Physiol B. 2023; :. doi: 10.1007/s00360-023-01523-3. PubMed PMID:37910192 .
  2. Lloyd, E, Privat, M, Sumbre, G, Duboué, ER, Keene, AC. A protocol for whole-brain Ca2+ imaging in Astyanax mexicanus, a model of comparative evolution. STAR Protoc. 2023;4 (4):102517. doi: 10.1016/j.xpro.2023.102517. PubMed PMID:37742184 PubMed Central PMC10520939.
  3. Sonti, S, Littleton, SH, Pahl, MC, Zimmerman, AJ, Chesi, A, Palermo, J et al.. Perturbation of the insomnia WDR90 GWAS locus pinpoints rs3752495 as a causal variant influencing distal expression of neighboring gene, PIG-Q. bioRxiv. 2023; :. doi: 10.1101/2023.08.17.553739. PubMed PMID:37645863 PubMed Central PMC10462147.
  4. Paz, A, Holt, KJ, Clarke, A, Aviles, A, Abraham, B, Keene, AC et al.. Changes in local interaction rules during ontogeny underlie the evolution of collective behavior. iScience. 2023;26 (9):107431. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2023.107431. PubMed PMID:37636065 PubMed Central PMC10448030.
  5. Kozol, RA, Conith, AJ, Yuiska, A, Cree-Newman, A, Tolentino, B, Benesh, K et al.. A brain-wide analysis maps structural evolution to distinct anatomical module. Elife. 2023;12 :. doi: 10.7554/eLife.80777. PubMed PMID:37498318 PubMed Central PMC10435234.
  6. Brown, EB, Keene, AC. Sleep regulation: The gut sets the threshold. Curr Biol. 2023;33 (10):R420-R423. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2023.04.014. PubMed PMID:37220738 .
  7. Moran, RL, Richards, EJ, Ornelas-García, CP, Gross, JB, Donny, A, Wiese, J et al.. Selection-driven trait loss in independently evolved cavefish populations. Nat Commun. 2023;14 (1):2557. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-37909-8. PubMed PMID:37137902 PubMed Central PMC10156726.
  8. Kozol, RA, Yuiska, A, Han, JH, Tolentino, B, Lopatto, A, Lewis, P et al.. Novel Husbandry Practices Result in Rapid Rates of Growth and Sexual Maturation Without Impacting Adult Behavior in the Blind Mexican Cavefish. Zebrafish. 2023;20 (2):86-94. doi: 10.1089/zeb.2023.0001. PubMed PMID:37071855 PubMed Central PMC10123811.
  9. Hess, RA, Erickson, OA, Cole, RB, Isaacs, JM, Alvarez-Clare, S, Arnold, J et al.. Virtually the Same? Evaluating the Effectiveness of Remote Undergraduate Research Experiences. CBE Life Sci Educ. 2023;22 (2):ar25. doi: 10.1187/cbe.22-01-0001. PubMed PMID:37058442 PubMed Central PMC10228262.
  10. Paz, A, Holt, KJ, Clarke, A, Aviles, A, Abraham, B, Keene, AC et al.. Changes in local interaction rules during ontogeny underlie the evolution of collective behavior. bioRxiv. 2023; :. doi: 10.1101/2023.03.28.534467. PubMed PMID:37034671 PubMed Central PMC10081253.
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