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Simon Levy, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Physiology and Biophysics

B.Sc. Ecole Technique Superieure de Geneve, Switzerland
M.Sc. Univ. Scientifique & Medicale, Grenoble, France
M.Sc. University of Geneva, Switzerland
Ph. D. Boston University

Phone: (617) 638-4264
Fax: (617) 638-4273
E-mail: simonL@bu.edu
Address: see below
Link to BU Faculty Profile
Link to ORCID


Calcium Signalling in Nerve Cells

In most nerve cells, transient increases in intracellular free calcium concentrations (Cai) are caused primarily by influx through voltage-dependent calcium channels. Second messengers like inositol trisphosphate (InsP3) or calcium also have the ability to increase Cai through release from intracellular stores, or gating of calcium channels.

The long-term goal of this laboratory is to investigate mechanisms by which second messengers modulate the excitability of nerve cells by controlling their membrane permeability. We have developed suitable technologies: i) to measure single-channel activities ii) to simultaneously measure changes in intracellular calcium and membrane currents; iii) to pressure-inject pharmacological agents to investigate putative pathways involved in neuronal excitability. The combination of these electrophysiological and pharmacological techniques have proven useful in gathering new and important information about nerve cell function.

Intracellular Calcium Measurement: Isolated bag cell neuron with calcium-selective (right) and voltage microelectrodes.

There are four main projects:

  1. Intracellular calcium regulation and detection in nerve cells. Effects of second messengers on internal calcium and membrane currents in nerve cells.
  2. Role of calcium-induced calcium release in the excitability of the peptidergic neurons of Aplysia californica.
  3. Role of calcium and Inositol Trisphosphate in phototransduction in Limulus photoreceptors.
  4. Genetic Dissociation of phototransduction in Drosophila photoreceptors.

Selected Publications:

K. Agam, M. von Campenhausen, S. Levy, H. Cohen, B. Cook, K. Kirshfeld and B. Minke. 2000. Metabolic stress reversibly activates the Drosophila light-sensitive channels TRP and TRPL in vivo. J. Neurosci. 20:5748-5755.

Levy, S. and R. Payne. 1996. Limulus Ventral Photoreceptors Contain Two Functionally Dissimilar Inositol Trisphosphate-induced Calcium Release Mechanisms. J. Photochem. Photobiol. B: Biology 35:97-103.

Fisher, T.E., Levy, S., and Kaczmarek, L.K. 1994. Transient changes in intracellular calcium associated with a long-term increase in excitability in neurons of Aplysia californica. J. Neurophysiol. 71:1254-1257.

Levy, S. and R. Payne. 1993. A lingering elevation of Cai accompanies inhibition of InsP3-induced calcium release in Limulus ventral photoreceptors. J. Gen. Physiol. 101:67-84.

Levy, S. 1992. Effect of intracellular injection of inositol trisphosphate on cytosolic calcium and membrane currents in Aplysia neurons. J. Neurosc. 12:2120-2129.

Contact Us

Department of Physiology and Biophysics
Boston University School of Medicine
72 East Concord Street, L708E
Boston MA 02118-2526

Phone:(617) 638-4264
Fax: (617) 638-4273
e-mail: simonL@bu.edu

February 21, 2014
Primary teaching affiliate
of BU School of Medicine