Swati Banerjee, Ph.D.



Cellular and Integrative Physiology

Swati Banerjee, Ph.D.

Associate Professor


Ph.D., Life Sciences, Devi Ahilya University, Indore and Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur


We are currently exploring the following three research themes:

1) Neuron-Glial Interactions and Ensheathment of Axons
Molecular interactions between neurons and glial cells are vital for proper functioning of the nervous system across species. These bidirectional interactions are central in processes such as ensheathment of axons, formation of axo-glial junctions, and maintenance of functional blood-brain and blood-nerve barriers. We use the Drosophila nervous system to investigate the molecular basis of axonal ensheathment. Using genetic, cell biological and biochemical approaches, we have identified several proteins that have fundamental roles in neuron-glial interactions underlying the process of ensheathment of axons both in the PNS and CNS. Our studies in Drosophila are relevant to understanding the mechanisms regulating vertebrate myelination in health and disease.

2) Trans-Synaptic Adhesion and Signaling in Synaptic Growth and Cytoarchitecture
Our research interest also includes the study of synapse formation and function. Two key synaptic cell adhesion molecules, Neurexin and Neuroligin in Drosophila connect the pre- and postsynaptic terminals of the synapses. In humans, mutations in Neurexin or Neuroligin genes are implicated in Autism Spectrum Disorders and other cognitive disorders. Our recent work indicates that Drosophila Neurexin/Neuroligin 1 regulate components of the BMP signaling pathway. We are interested in deciphering how Neurexin/Neuroligin and related proteins mediate trans-synaptic signaling and shape neural networks to process and refine information.

3) Role of Synaptic and Cytoskeletal Proteins in Aging and Neurodegeneration
Cytoskeletal dysfunction, axonal and synapse loss are among the many hallmarks in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. In these prolonged diseases, decrease in synapse density and changes in cytoskeletal dynamics are among the important correlates of disease progression. Yet, very little is known about the molecular pathways that maintain axonal, synaptic and cytoskeletal health and their roles in aging and neurodegeneration. We are screening for new synapse maintenance and cytoskeletal genes using the Drosophila as our model system to tackle these important human disease related questions.

Awards & Accomplishments

2020 Recipient of Mentored Career Development Award, Perry and Ruby Stevens Parkinson’s Disease Center of Excellence, UT Health San Antonio

Co-Investigator, NINDS R25 Training Grant for Summer Physiology Undergraduate Researcher Program

Research in our laboratory has been generously supported by:
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NIH
Perry and Ruby Stevens Parkinson’s Disease Center of Excellence
Morrison Trust
UT Health San Antonio

Lab Members


Current Lab Members:

Haven Tillmon
Ph.D. student in the IBMS Program
Meng Wang
MD/PhD Student
UT Health
Shuting Chen

Visiting Student
M.D., Xiangya School of Medicine
Central South University (China)

Maura Davis
Research Assistant
Jessie Alfaro
Undergraduate, NINDS R25 SPUR Program
Grecia Martinez
Undergraduate, NINDS R25 SPUR Program (Joint with Dr. Bhat)


Lab Alumni:

Sreeram Pasupuleti, (Voelcker Biomedical Research Scholar, currently an undergrad pursuing BS/MD from Texas A&M, College Station)
Jing Xie (Visiting student, currently MD Neurology, Xiangya School of Medicine)
Nicholas Long (Voelcker Biomedical Research Scholar, currently an undergraduate at UT Austin)
Ida Vaziri (Student Associate, currently a Medical student at UT Health San Antonio)
Afaf Saliba (Research Scientist, currently graduate student IBMS Program)
Carolina Guzman (High School student, currently an undergrad at UTSA)
Davyani Srivastava (SPUR student, currently a Medical Student at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas)
Maeveen Riordan (Research Assistant, joint with Dr. Bhat, currently MD, Internal Medicine at Aurora, CO)


Xie J, Chen S, Bopassa, JC and Banerjee S. (2021). Drosophila Tubulin Polymerization Promoting Protein Mutants Reveal Pathological Correlates Relevant to Human Parkinson’s Disease. Scientific Reports 11:13614. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-92738-3

Vargas, E. J. M, Matamoros, A. J., Qiu, J., Jan, C. H., Wang, Q., Gorczyca, D., Han, T. W., Weissman, J. S., Jan, Y. N., Banerjee, S. and Song, Y. (2020). The microtubule regulator ringer functions downstream from the RNA repair/splicing pathway to promote axon regeneration. Genes and Dev. 34: 1-15. doi:10.1101/gad.331330.119

Shi, Q., Lin, Y. Q., Saliba, A., Xie, J., Neely, G. G. and Banerjee, S. (2019). Tubulin Polymerization Promoting Protein, Ringmaker, and MAP1B Homolog Futsch Coordinate Microtubule Organization and Synaptic Growth. Frontiers in Cell Neurosci. 13:192. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2019.00192 .

Banerjee, S. and Riordan, M. (2018). Coordinated Regulation of Axonal Microtubule Organization and Transport by Drosophila Neurexin and BMP Pathway.
Scientific Reports, 8(1):17337 .

Banerjee, S., Mino, R., Fisher, E. and Bhat, M.A. (2017). A Versatile Genetic Tool to Study Midline Glia Function in the Drosophila CNS. Developmental Biology, 429(1):35-43.

Banerjee, S., Venkatesan, A. and Bhat, M.A. (2017) Neurexin, Neuroligin and Wishful Thinking Coordinate Synaptic Cytoarchitecture and Growth at Neuromuscular Junctions. Mol. Cell. Neurosci.78, 9-24. (Featured on the Cover).

Mino, R.E., Rogers, S.L., Risinger, A.L., Rohena, C., Banerjee, S. and Bhat, M.A. (2016). Drosophila Ringmaker Regulates Microtubule Stabilization and Axonal Extension During Embryonic Development. J. Cell Sci. 129, 3282-3294.

Banerjee, S., Riordan, M. and Bhat, M.A. (2014). Genetic Aspects of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Insights from Animal Models. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 8:58.

Chen, Y.-C., Lin, Y.Q., Banerjee, S., Venken, K., Li, J., Ismat, A., Chen, K., Duraine, L., Bellen, H.J. and Bhat, M.A. (2012). Drosophila Neuroligin 2 is Required Presynaptically and Postsynaptically for proper Synaptic Differentiation and Synaptic Transmission. J. Neurosci. 32: 16018-16030.

Banerjee, S., Paik, R., Mino, R.E., Blauth, K., Fisher, E.S., Madden, V., Fanning, A. S., and Bhat, M.A. (2011). A Laminin G-EGF-Laminin G (LEL) Module in Drosophila Neurexin IV is Essential for the Apico-lateral Localization of Contactin and Organization of Septate Junctions. PLos ONE 6, e25926 (1-14).

Blauth, K., Banerjee, S. and M.A. Bhat (2010) Axonal Ensheathment and Intercellular Barrier Formation in Drosophila. International Review of Cell and Molecular Biology 283, 93-128.

Banerjee, S., Blauth, K., Peters, K., Rogers, S. L., Fanning, A. S. and M.A. Bhat 2010. Drosophila Neurexin IV interacts with Roundabout and is required for repulsive midline axon guidance. Journal of Neuroscience 30, 5653-5667.

Wheeler, S., Banerjee, S., Blauth, K., Rogers, S., Crews, S. and M. A. Bhat. 2009. Neurexin IV and Wrapper interactions mediate Drosophila midline glial migration and axonal ensheathment. Development 136, 1147-57.

Banerjee, S., R.J. Bainton, Mayer, N., Beckstead, R. and M. A. Bhat. 2008. Septate junctions are required for ommatidial integrity and blood-eye barrier formation in Drosophila. Developmental Biology 317, 585-99. (Cover)

Banerjee, S. and M. A. Bhat. 2008. Glial ensheathment of peripheral axons in Drosophila. Journal of Neuroscience Research 86, 1189-98.

Banerjee, S. and Bhat, M.A. 2007. Neuron-glial interactions in blood-brain barrier formation. Annual Review of Neuroscience 30, 235-258.

Wu, V, M., Yu, M., Paik, R., Banerjee, S., Liang, Z., Paul, S. M., Bhat, M. A. and Beitel, G. J. 2007. Varicose encodes a member of a new subgroup of basolateral MAGUKs and is required for Drosophila septate junction formation. Development 134, 999-1009.

Banerjee, S., Sousa, A.D. and M.A. Bhat. 2006. Organization and function of septate junctions: An evolutionary perspective. Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics 45, 65-77.

Banerjee, S., Paik, R., Pillai, A. M. and M.A. Bhat. 2006. Axonal Ensheathment and Septate Junction Formation in the Peripheral Nervous System of Drosophila. Journal of Neuroscience 26, 3319-3329.

Faivre-Sarrailh, C.*, S. Banerjee*, J. Li, M. Laval, M. Hortsch, and M.A. Bhat. 2004. Drosophila Contactin, a homolog of vertebrate contactin is required for septate junction organization and paracellular barrier function. Development 131, 4931-4942. (*Co-First Authors).

Mishra, A.*, Agrawal, N.*, Banerjee, S.*, Sardesai, D., Dalal, J.S., Bhojwani, J., Sinha, P. 2001. Spatial regulation of DELTA expression mediates NOTCH signaling for segmentation of Drosophila legs. Mechanisms of Development 105, 115-127.
(*Co-First Authors)