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. 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 .
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Brown, E, Worden, K, Li, Y, Masek, P, Keene, AC. Measurement of Reflexive Feeding Response in Drosophila. Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2023;2023 (6):pdb.prot108092. doi: 10.1101/pdb.prot108092. PubMed PMID:36787966 .
  7. Brown, E, Worden, K, Li, Y, Masek, P, Keene, AC. Innate and Conditioned Taste Processing in Drosophila. Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2023;2023 (6):pdb.top107864. doi: 10.1101/pdb.top107864. PubMed PMID:36787965 .
  8. Brown, E, Worden, K, Li, Y, Masek, P, Keene, AC. Measurement of Taste Memory in Drosophila. Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2023;2023 (6):pdb.prot108093. doi: 10.1101/pdb.prot108093. PubMed PMID:36787963 .
  9. Palermo, J, Chesi, A, Zimmerman, A, Sonti, S, Pahl, MC, Lasconi, C et al.. Variant-to-gene mapping followed by cross-species genetic screening identifies GPI-anchor biosynthesis as a regulator of sleep. Sci Adv. 2023;9 (1):eabq0844. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abq0844. PubMed PMID:36608130 PubMed Central PMC9821868.
  10. Rodriguez-Morales, R, Gonzalez-Lerma, P, Yuiska, A, Han, JH, Guerra, Y, Crisostomo, L et al.. Convergence on reduced aggression through shared behavioral traits in multiple populations of Astyanax mexicanus. BMC Ecol Evol. 2022;22 (1):116. doi: 10.1186/s12862-022-02069-8. PubMed PMID:36241984 PubMed Central PMC9563175.
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