Professor of Zoology and Neurobiology


RPTU Kaiserslautern-Landau
Erwin-Schrödinger-Str., Bldg. 13 Room no. 532
67663 Kaiserslautern

Phone: +49(0)631 205 2426

Email: pielage[at]

Curriculum Vitae:

  • 2016 – today Professor of Zoology and Neurobiology (W3), Faculty of Biology, University of Kaiserslautern. Head of the Department.
  • 2008 – 2016  Independent Junior Group leader at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland
  • 2003 – 2007  Postdoc in the laboratory of Grae Davis at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco, USA
  • 1999 – 2002  PhD student in the laboratory of Christian Klämbt at the Department of Neurobiology at the University of Münster
  • 1993 – 1999  Studies of Biology at the University of Kaiserslautern, the University College London and the University of Münster

Major Research Interests:

The main focus of our research group is the identification of the molecular mechanisms controlling synapse formation, function and stability.

Neuronal circuits are formed through synaptic connections between defined populations of neurons. The regulated assembly and disassembly of synaptic connections ensures precise connectivity during development and during plasticity of the mature circuit. In contrast, the inappropriate loss of synaptic connections leads to a disruption of neuronal circuits and to progressive neurodegenerative disorders. Therefore, identification of the molecular mechanisms controlling synaptic connectivity is essential for our understanding of neuronal circuit function and plasticity in development and disease.

We are combining three complementary systems to gain insights into the principles underlying synapse and neuronal circuit development. We use the Drosophila neuromuscular junction (NMJ) as a model system to identify the molecular and cellular mechanisms controlling synapse formation, function and stability at the level of individual synapses. In addition, we use the adult taste circuit as a complementary model system to unravel how these synaptic mechanisms contribute to the assembly and function of complex neuronal circuits. Finally, we address the relevance of synaptic connectivity and function for learning and memory using olfactory conditioning in the adult fly as an assay.

Together these complementary approaches enable us to identify the cellular principles and mechanisms underlying synapse formation and plasticity with important implications for neuronal circuit function and ultimately animal behavior in development and disease.research pages

Selected Publications:

Hafez OA, Escribano B, Ziegler RL, Hirtz JJ, Niebur E, Pielage J (2023)
The cellular architecture of memory modules in Drosophila supports stochastic input integration.
Elife, 12:e77578.  doi: 10.7554/eLife.77578

Krämer L, Dalheimer N, Räschle M, Storchová Z, Pielage J, Boos F, Herrmann JM (2023)
MitoStores: chaperone-controlled protein granules store mitochondrial precursors in the cytosol.
EMBO J. 42(7):e112309. doi: 10.15252/embj.2022112309

Mushtaq Z, Aavula K, Lasser DA, Kieweg ID, Lion LM, Kins S, Pielage J (2022)
Madm/NRBP1 mediates synaptic maintenance and neurodegeneration-induced presynaptic homeostatic potentiation.
Cell Reports 41, 111710 doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2022.111710

Hafez OA, Escribano B, Ziegler RL, Hirtz JJ, Niebur E, Pielage J (2021)
Dendritic signal integration in a Drosophila Mushroom Body Output Neuron (MBON) essential for learning and memory.
BioRxiv, doi: 10.1101/2020.12.06.413500

Siegenthaler D, Escribano B, Bräuler V, Pielage J (2019)
Selective suppression and recall of long-term memories in Drosophila.
PLoS Biol 17(8): e3000400

Weber T, Stephan R, Moreno E, Pielage J (2019) The ankyrin repeat domain controls presynaptic localization of Drosophila Ankyrin2 and is essential for synaptic stability.
Front. Cell Dev. Biol. | doi: 10.3389/fcell.2019.00148

Yang WK, Chueh YR, Cheng YJ, Siegenthaler D, Pielage J, Chien CT (2019)
Epidermis-Derived L1CAM Homolog Neuroglian Mediates Dendrite Enclosure and Blocks Heteroneuronal Dendrite Bundling.
Curr Biol. 29, 1445-1459.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.03.050

Kakad PP, Penserga T, Davis BP, Henry B, Boerner J, Riso A, Pielage J, Godenschwege TA (2018)
An ankyrin-binding motif regulates nuclear levels of L1-type neuroglian and expression of the oncogene Myc in Drosophila neurons.
J Biol Chem 293, 17442–17453. doi:10.1074/jbc.RA118.004240

Kudumala SR, Penserga T, Börner J, Slipchuk O, Kakad P, Lee LH, Qureshi A, Pielage J, Godenschwege TA (2017)
Lissencephaly-1 dependent axonal retrograde transport of L1-type CAM Neuroglian in the adult drosophila central nervous system.
PLoS One 12(8):e0183605

Schwarz O, Bohra AA, Liu X, Reichert H, VijayRaghavan K, Pielage J (2017)
Motor control of Drosophila feeding behavior.
Elife 17;6 10.7554/eLife.19892

Pielage J (2016)
Induced knockouts provide insights into human L1 syndrome.
J Exp Med 213:466

Stephan R, Goellner B, Moreno E, Frank CA, Hugenschmidt T, Genoud C, Aberle H, Pielage J (2015)
Hierarchical microtubule organization controls axonal caliber and transport and determines synaptic structure and connectivity.
Dev Cell 33:5-21

Siegenthaler D, Enneking EM, Moreno E, Pielage J (2015)
L1CAM/Neuroglian controls the axon-axon interactions establishing layered and lobular mushroom body architecture.
J Cell Biol 208:1003-1018

Bulat V, Rast M, Pielage J (2014)
Presynaptic CK2 promotes synapse organization and stability by targeting Ankyrin2.
J Cell Biol, 204:77-94

Enneking E, Kudumala SR, Moreno E, Stephan R, Boerner J, Godenschwege TA, Pielage J (2013)
Transsynaptic coordination of synaptic growth, function, and stability by the L1-type CAM neuroglian.
PLOS Biology, 11: e1001537

Pielage J*, Bulat V, Zuchero JB, Fetter RD, Davis GW* (2011)
Hts/Adducin controls synaptic elaboration and elimination.
Neuron 69:1114-1131
*corresponding authors

Frank CA*, Pielage J*, Davis GW (2009)
A presynaptic homeostatic signaling system composed of the Eph receptor, Ephexin, Cdc42 and Cav2.1 calcium channels.
Neuron 61:556-569
*equal contributions

Massaro CM, Pielage J, Davis GW (2009)
Molecular mechanisms that enhance synapse stability despite persistent disruption of the spectrin/ankyrin/microtubule cytoskeleton.
J Cell Biol 187:101-17

Pielage J, Cheng L, Fetter RD, Carlton PM, Sedat JW, Davis GW (2008)
A presynaptic giant Ankyrin stabilizes the NMJ through regulation of presynaptic microtubules and transsynaptic cell adhesion.
Neuron 58:195-209

Hülsmeier J, Pielage J, Rickert C, Technau GM, Klämbt C, Stork T (2007)
Distinct functions of alpha-Spectrin and beta-Spectrin during axonal pathfinding.
Development 134:713-722

Pielage J, Fetter RD, Davis GW (2006)
A postsynaptic spectrin scaffold defines active zone size, spacing, and efficacy at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction.
J Cell Biol 175:491-503

Pielage J, Fetter RD, Davis GW (2005)
Presynaptic spectrin is essential for synapse stabilization.
Curr Biol 15:918-928

Pielage J, Kippert A, Zhu M, Klämbt C (2004)
The Drosophila transmembrane protein Fear-of-intimacy controls glial cell migration.
Dev Biol 275:245-257

Pielage J, Stork T, Bunse I, Klämbt C (2003)
The Drosophila cell survival gene discs lost encodes a cytoplasmic Codanin-1-like protein, not a homolog of tight junction PDZ protein Patj.
Dev Cell 5:841-851

Edenfeld G, Pielage, J, Klämbt C (2002)
Cell lineage specification in the nervous system.
Curr Opin Genet Dev 12:473-477

Pielage J, Steffes G, Lau DC, Parente BA, Crews ST, Strauss R, Klämbt C (2002)
Novel behavioral and developmental defects associated with Drosophila single-minded.
Dev Biol 249:283-299

Pielage J, Klambt C (2001)
Glial cells aid axonal target selection.
Trends Neurosci 24:432-433


Full list of publications

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