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Mohini Sengupta, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor


PhD in Biology, National Center for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, India

Integrated Bachelors and Masters in Biotechnology, St Xaviers College, Kolkata, India

Research Interests

Generating movement is essential for survival. Even simple movements like walking require precise coordination between different body parts that is not a trivial feat. Just like toddlers slowly get better at walking, motor coordination improves as the animal matures. Motor coordination is specifically disrupted in several motor diseases and spinal cord injury, yet therapy remains limited. Our lab is interested in deciphering how different muscles are coordinated for diverse movements, how this coordination is refined over development and how this coordination is disrupted in motor diseases.

In vertebrates, neurons in the spinal cord help generate movements and are modulated by inputs from the brain. We use zebrafish, a tiny, transparent vertebrate to study motor coordination. Spinal neurons in zebrafish are homologous to other vertebrates like mice and humans but are significantly less in number and complexity providing a tractable system to investigate motor control. Moreover, the transparency at early stages allows easy use of in vivo techniques to record from neurons (electrophysiology, calcium imaging) and manipulate them (optogenetics) during natural behaviors (swimming, hunting). Using these techniques, the Sengupta Lab aims to determine how zebrafish coordinate their fins and body during swimming and how this coordination develops. By defining functions of distinct populations in the brain and spinal cord, we aim to provide tangible targets for much needed therapy.

Labs and Facilities

Sengupta lab website:

Publications and Media Placements

Varma, A.*, Udupa, S., Sengupta, M., Ghosh, P.K., and Thirumalai, V. (2023). A machine-learning tool to identify bistable states from calcium imaging data. Jneurophys. In press.

Sengupta, M.*, and Bagnall, M.W. (2022). Spinal interneurons: diversity, connectivity, and functional implications. Annu. Rev. Neuro. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-neuro-083122-025325.

Sengupta, M.*, and Bagnall, M.W. (2022). V2b neurons act via multiple targets in spinal motor networks. Biorxiv. 10.1101/2022.08.01.502410.

Roussel, Y.*, Gaudreau, S.F., Kacer, E.R., Sengupta, M., and Bui, T.V. (2021). Modelling spinal locomotor circuits for movements in developing zebrafish. Elife 10. 10.7554/eLife.67453.

Sengupta, M.*, Daliparthi, V., Roussel, Y., Bui, T. v., and Bagnall, M.W. (2021). Spinal V1 neurons inhibit motor targets locally and sensory targets distally. Current Biology 31, 3820–3833. 10.1016/j.cub.2021.06.053.

Callahan, R.A.*, Roberts, R., Sengupta, M., Kimura, Y., Higashijima, S.-I., and Bagnall, M.W. (2019). Spinal V2b neurons reveal a role for ipsilateral inhibition in speed control. Elife 8. 10.7554/eLife.47837.

Lupton, C.*, Sengupta, M.*, Cheng, R.K., Chia, J., Thirumalai, V., and Jesuthasan, S. (2017). Loss of the habenula intrinsic neuromodulator kisspeptin1 affects learning in larval zebrafish. eNeuro 4. 10.1523/ENEURO.0326-16.2017.

Sengupta, M.*, and Thirumalai, V. (2015). AMPA receptor mediated synaptic excitation drives state-dependent bursting in Purkinje neurons of zebrafish larvae. Elife 4. 10.7554/eLife.09158.

*denotes first authors