Zoran, Mark individual record
Professor and Associate Dean

Cellular and Developmental Neurobiology

Research Summary My laboratory studies cellular mechanisms governing the formation of specific synaptic connections between neurons and their targets. These mechanisms include cell-cell recognition and target-dependent induction of the presynaptic secretion machinery. Some of our studies investigate synapse formation of identified motoneurons of the American pond snail, Helisoma trivolvis , following nerve injury in vivo and in cell culture. Since the synapse is the site of most interneuronal communication within the nervous system, an understanding of the development, regeneration and plasticity of these connections is crucial to an ultimate appreciation of neural integration and brain function.

Neural Morphallaxis

We also study a rare form of regeneration called neural morphallaxis in the annelid worm, Lumbriculus variegatus. This organism is ideal for examining behavioral, physiological, cellular and molecular mechanisms of development, regeneration and systems-level plasticity. We have defined the neural correlates of escape reflexes, which are reconfigured during morphallaxis. Recently we have begun investigations of synaptic molecules up-regulated specifically during morphallaxis. This model system is emerging as a valuable educational tool in the science classroom.

selected publications
Academic Articles37
  • Lybrand, Z. R., Martinez‐Acosta, V. G., & Zoran, M. J. (2020). Coupled sensory interneurons mediate escape neural circuit processing in an aquatic annelid worm, Lumbriculus variegatus. 528(3), 468-480.
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  • Agrawal, P., Houl, J. H., Gunawardhana, K. L., Liu, T., Zhou, J., Zoran, M. J., & Hardin, P. E. (2017). Drosophila CRY Entrains Clocks in Body Tissues to Light and Maintains Passive Membrane Properties in a Non-clock Body Tissue Independent of Light.. Curr Biol. 27(16), 2431-2441.e3.
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  • Islam, R., Nakamura, M., Scott, H., Repnikova, E., Carnahan, M., Pandey, D., ... Panin, V. M. (2013). The role of Drosophila cytidine monophosphate-sialic acid synthetase in the nervous system.. J Neurosci. 33(30), 12306-12315.
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  • Zoran, M. J., & Martinez, V. G. (2009). Lumbriculus variegatus and the Need for Speed: A Model System for Rapid Escape, Regeneration and Asexual Reproduction. Annelids in Modern Biology. 185-202. John Wiley & Sons, Inc..
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Conference Papers5
  • Scott, H., Caster, C., Mertsalov, I., Alfert, M., Howell, B., Zoran, M. J., & Panin, V. (2014). The role of CMP-Sialic acid synthetase in Drosophila neural transmission. GLYCOBIOLOGY. 24(11), 1159-1159.
  • Scott, H., Islam, R., Caster, C., Zoran, M. J., & Panin, V. M. (2013). The in vivo function of Drosophila CMP-Sialic acid synthetase. GLYCOBIOLOGY. 23(11), 1331-1331.
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  • Martinez, V. G., & Zoran, M. J. (2002). Giant axon morphallaxis during segmental regeneration of Lumbriculus variegatus.. 42(6), 1273-1273.
  • Haydon, P. G., Zoran, M. J., Man-Son-Hing, H. J., Sievers, E. M., & Doyle, R. T. (1990). A relation between synaptic specificity and the acquisition of presynaptic properties.. 84(1), 111-120.
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chaired theses and dissertations
First Name
Last Name
mailing address
Texas A&M University; Biology; 3258 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843-3258