Nansi J. Colley

Nansi Colley
Professor, Departments of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
(608) 265-5398


Ph.D. University of California, Santa Barbara

Research Focus:

Molecular Genetics of Protein Trafficking in the Drosophilia Visual System and Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration

Research Strengths:

Membrane Excitability and Synaptic Transmission; Molecular Neuroscience; Neurobiology of Disease

Research Description:

The research in my group explores the molecular genetic basis of signal transduction in the photoreceptor cells of Drosophila melanogaster. Our goal is to identify the molecular components underlying protein targeting and transport as well as calcium modulation. Phototransduction in Drosophila utilizes a G protein-coupled phospholipase-C-mediated signaling cascade that is regulated by calcium. Light stimulation of the receptor, rhodopsin, activates a heterotrimeric G protein of the Gq family which activates a phospholipase C encoded by the norpA gene. We are focused on the precise targeting and transport mechanisms that assemble the constituents of phototransduction. Drosophila photoreceptors contain a photosensitive organelle called the rhabdomere. Rhabdomeres are functionally equivalent to the vertebrate photoreceptor outer segments and contain the rhodopsin photopigments and the other components of the phototransduction cascade. During biosynthesis, the members of phototransduction are specifically targeted and transported to the rhabdomeres. Drosophila is an ideal model system for the study of the assembly of G protein-coupled signaling cascades. Our studies in the fruit fly make use of powerful molecular genetic techniques to identify novel transport and transduction molecules, and we are able to examine the function of these molecules in vivo. The results obtained from our studies offer insights for the molecular basis of sensory reception as well as understanding abnormalities and disease in the human nervous system.


Please see PubMed for most recent publications

  • Kraus A, Groenendyk J, Bedard K, Baldwin TA, Krause KH, Dubois-Dauphin M, Dyck J, Rosenbaum EE, Korngut L, Colley NJ, Gosgnach S, Zochodne D, Todd K, Agellon LB, Michalak M. 2010. Calnexin deficiency leads to dysmyelination. J. Cell Biol. Jun 11;285(24):18928-38