Cell Biology and Neuroscience

Michael E. Adams

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Phone: (951) 827-4746
Fax: Lab, not fax (951) 827-4369
Office Location: 3107 Biological Sciences Building
Lab: 3206 Biological Sciences Building
Office Hours:
Email: michael.adams@ucr.edu

Michael E. Adams

Professor of Entomology and Neuroscience
Ph.D. 1978, University of California, Riverside
DAAD Postdoctoral Fellow 1979
NATO Postdoctoral Fellow 1980


Peptides and behavior

Molecular and cellular physiology of chemical signaling

Pharmacology of ion channels

My research is concerned with the biological chemistry and molecular physiology of signaling in the nervous system. Our approach is to examine mechanisms by which paralytic venoms disrupt synaptic transmission. Spider and scorpion venoms are cocktails of toxins which immobilize prey through specific actions on ion channels in nerve membranes. The ability of many toxins to discriminate between different ion channel subtypes makes them valuable as pharmacological probes for functional analysis. Current research efforts include the isolation and identification of novel toxins and analysis of their structure-activity relationships by site-directed mutagenesis and patch clamp electrophysiology.

Applications of specific toxin-receptor interactions are being found in both medicine and agriculture. Certain highly selective toxins can have therapeutic actions with minimal side effects. Specific ion channel modification by chemical agents such as toxins or drug mimics is emerging as a strategy for treatment of stroke, convulsive syndromes and chronic pain. Likewise, ion channel-specific toxins are finding applications in agricultural pest control strategies. Many toxins are shown to specifically target insect ion channels. Genes for these toxins, when genetically engineered into insect-specific pathogens, constitute novel biological insecticides.

A second major research focus is on neuropeptides that regulate developmental and behavioral processes. The recent discoveries of the epitracheal endocrine system in insects and its secretory product, the ecdysis-triggering hormone (ETH), have revealed new insights into the endocrinology of ecdysis, the crucial stage through which insects must pass repeatedly during development from embryo to adult. ETH triggers a series of complex centrally patterned motor behaviors leading to ecdysis and thus provides an excellent model system for examining the relationships between gene expression, development, and animal behavior.


  • Kim, Y.-J., Zitnan, D., Galizia, C.G., Cho, K.-H., and Adams, M. E. 2006. A Command Chemical Triggers an Innate Behavior by Sequential Activation of Multiple Peptidergic Ensembles. Current Biol. 16: 1395-1407.
  • Moore, E.L., Haspel, G. Libersat, F. and Adams, M.E. 2006. Parasitoid Wasp Sting: A Cocktail of GABA, Taurine and beta-alanine opens chloride channels for central synaptic block and transient paralysis of a cockroach host. J. Neurobiol. 66: 811-820.
  • Park, Y. and Adams, M.E. 2005. Insect G Protein-coupled receptors: Recent discoveries and Implications. In: Comprehensive Insect Biochemistry, Physiology, Pharmacology and Molecular Biology, (L. I. Gilbert, K. Iatrou, and S.S. Gill, Eds.), Elsevier Press, London, Vol. 5, pp. 143-171.
  • Zitnan, D. and Adams, M.E. 2005. Neuroendocrine Regulation of Insect Ecdysis. In: Comprehensive Insect Biochemistry, Physiology, Pharmacology, and Molecular Biology, (L.I. Gilbert, K. Iatrou and S.S. Gill, Eds.), Elsevier Press, London, Vol. 3, pp. 1-60.
  • Adams, M.E. 2004. Agatoxins. Toxicon 43: 509-525.
  • Kim, Y., Spalovska-Valachova, I., Cho, K., Zitnanova, I., Park, Y., Adams, M.E. and Zitnan, D. 2004. Corazonin Receptor Signaling in Ecdysis Initiation. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101: 6704-6709.
  • Park, Y., Y. J. Kim, V. Dupriez, and M.E. Adams. 2003. Two Subtypes of Ecdysis-triggering Hormone Receptor in Drosophila melanogaster. Biol. Chem. 278: 17710-5.
  • Zitnan, D., I. Zitnanova, I. Spalovska, P. Takac, Y. Park and M.E. Adams. 2003. Conservation of ecdysis-triggering hormone signalling in insects. J. Exp. Biol. 206: 1275-89.
  • Zitnan, D., L. Hollar, I. Spalovska, P. Takac, I. Zitnanova, S.S. Gill and M.E. Adams. 2002. Molecular cloning and function of ecdysis-triggering hormones in the silkworm Bombyx mori. J. Exp. Biol. 205: 3459-3473.
  • Park, Y., Y.J. Kim and M.E. Adams. 2002. identification of G protein-coupled receptors for Drosophila PRXamide peptides, CCAP, corazonin, and AKH supports a theory of ligand-receptor coevolution. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U S A 12: 12.
  • Park, Y., V. Filippov, S.S. Gill and M.E. Adams. 2002. Deletion of the ecdysis-triggering hormone gene leads to lethal ecdysis deficiency. Development 129: 493-503.
  • Zitnanova, I., M.E. Adams, and D. Zitnan. 2001. Dual ecdysteroid action on epitracheal glands and the central nervous system preceding ecdysis of Manduca sexta. J. Exp. Biol. 204: 3483-3495.
  • Kingan, T. G., R. A. Cardullo, and M. E. Adams. 2001. Signal transduction in eclosion hormone-induced secretion of ecdysis-triggering hormone. J. Biol. Chem. 276: 25135-24142.
  • Zhao, Y., Y. Park, and M. E. Adams. 2000. Functional and evolutionary consequences of pyrethroid resistance mutations in S6 transmembrane segments of a voltage-gated sodium channel. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Comm.278: 516-521.
  • Zitnan, D. and M. E. Adams. 2000. Excitatory and inhibitory roles of central ganglia in initiation of the ecdysis behavioral sequence. J. Exp. Biol. 203: 1329-1340.
  • Lee, D., M. Gurevitz and M. E. Adams. 2000. Modification of synaptic transmission and sodium channel inactivation by the insect-selective scorpion toxin LqhalphaIT. J. Neurophysiol. 83(3): 1181-7.

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University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

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Cell Biology and Neuroscience
2109 Biological Science

David Eastmond: Chair of Cell Biology & Neurosience
Tel: (951) 827-4497
Fax: (951) 827-3087
E-mail: david.eastmond@ucr.edu