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. Amrein, H, Keene, AC. Sensory biology: Thirsty glia motivate water consumption. Curr Biol. 2022;32 (18):R949-R952. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.08.048. PubMed PMID:36167042 .
  2. Duboue, ER, Kowalko, JE, Keene, AC. Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CURES) as a pathway to diversify science. Evol Dev. 2022;24 (5):127-130. doi: 10.1111/ede.12410. PubMed PMID:35971632 .
  3. Lloyd, E, McDole, B, Privat, M, Jaggard, JB, Duboué, ER, Sumbre, G et al.. Blind cavefish retain functional connectivity in the tectum despite loss of retinal input. Curr Biol. 2022;32 (17):3720-3730.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.07.015. PubMed PMID:35926509 .
  4. Oliva, C, Hinz, NK, Robinson, W, Barrett Thompson, AM, Booth, J, Crisostomo, LM et al.. Characterizing the genetic basis of trait evolution in the Mexican cavefish. Evol Dev. 2022;24 (5):131-144. doi: 10.1111/ede.12412. PubMed PMID:35924750 .
  5. Chin, JSR, Phan, TN, Albert, LT, Keene, AC, Duboué, ER. Long lasting anxiety following early life stress is dependent on glucocorticoid signaling in zebrafish. Sci Rep. 2022;12 (1):12826. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-16257-5. PubMed PMID:35896563 PubMed Central PMC9329305.
  6. Perry, A, McGaugh, SE, Keene, AC, Blackmon, H. CaveCrawler: an interactive analysis suite for cavefish bioinformatics. G3 (Bethesda). 2022;12 (8):. doi: 10.1093/g3journal/jkac132. PubMed PMID:35708643 PubMed Central PMC9339328.
  7. Lunsford, ET, Paz, A, Keene, AC, Liao, JC. Evolutionary convergence of a neural mechanism in the cavefish lateral line system. Elife. 2022;11 :. doi: 10.7554/eLife.77387. PubMed PMID:35708234 PubMed Central PMC9246366.
  8. Palermo, J, Keene, AC, DiAngelo, JR. Expression of a constitutively active insulin receptor in Drosulfakinin (Dsk) neurons regulates metabolism and sleep in Drosophila. Biochem Biophys Rep. 2022;30 :101280. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrep.2022.101280. PubMed PMID:35600902 PubMed Central PMC9115315.
  9. Brown, EB, Klok, J, Keene, AC. Measuring metabolic rate in single flies during sleep and waking states via indirect calorimetry. J Neurosci Methods. 2022;376 :109606. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2022.109606. PubMed PMID:35483506 PubMed Central PMC9310448.
  10. Patch, A, Paz, A, Holt, KJ, Duboué, ER, Keene, AC, Kowalko, JE et al.. Kinematic analysis of social interactions deconstructs the evolved loss of schooling behavior in cavefish. PLoS One. 2022;17 (4):e0265894. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0265894. PubMed PMID:35385509 PubMed Central PMC8985933.
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