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Susan Tsunoda



Office: W317 Anatomy/Zoology
Phone: 970-491-3665
Fax: 970-491-7907

Susan Tsunoda, PhD

Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences
Program in Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Neurosciences

Colorado State University


PhD, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
BS, University of California-San Diego

Research Interests

Our studies over the years have focused on the molecular mechanisms and cellular strategies underlying the trafficking and regulation of ion channels, receptors, and signaling proteins. Much of our work has been dedicated to the study of the voltage-dependent Kv4/Shal K+ channel –its regulation, trafficking, and function. Our more recent studies have revealed that expression and turnover of Kv4/Shal channels are affected in two new contexts: in tuning cholinergic synaptic homeostasis (Ping and Tsunoda, Nature Neuroscience 2012), and in a Drosophila model of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) (Ping et al, PLoS Genetics 2015). We have presented one of the first demonstrations of synaptic homeostasis in cholinergic neurons.  Since cholinergic neurons are well known to undergo changes in activity during both development and multiple pathological conditions, including AD, there is increasing interest in understanding how these changes come about, and how they are related.

We have recently shown that Aβ42 induces an early increase synaptic activity that is followed by later synaptic inhibition, and that endogenous cholinergic synaptic homeostatic mechanisms underlie this progression (Hahm et al., Cell Reports 2018). Although there is increasing interest in cholinergic mechanisms, cholinergic neurons from mammalian models are well known not to survive well in culture, and this has been an impediment in the field. The Drosophila CNS, therefore, offers a genetically tractable cholinergic system that we can manipulate both in vitro and in vivo. Currently, we are digging deeper into the molecular mechanisms underlying how Kv4 channel expression is dynamically regulated to modulate, and perhaps protect, neuronal function and plasticity in both physiological and disease conditions.

Featured Publications

For a complete list of publications, please visit: S Tsunoda PubMed

Hahm E, Nagraja R, Waro G, Tsuonda S: Cholinergic Homeostatic Synaptic Plasticity Drives the Progression of Aβ-Induced Changes in Neural Activity. Cell Reports 2018; 24: 342-354.

Ping Y, Hahm E, Waro G, Song Q, Vo-Ba D, Licursi A, Bao H, Ganoe L, Finch K, Tsunoda S: Linking Aβ42-Induced Hyperexcitability to Neurodegeneration, Learning and Motor Deficits, and a Shorter Lifespan in an Alzheimer’s Model. PLoS Genetics 2015; 11(3):e1005025.

Lieu M-H, Vallejos MJ, Michael E, Tsunoda S: Mechanisms Underlying Stage-1 TRPL Translocation in Drosophila Photoreceptors. PLoS One 2012; 7(2):e31622.

Ping Y, Tsunoda S. 2012. Inactivity-induced increase in nAChRs up-regulates Shal K+ channels to stabilize synaptic potentials. Nature Neurosci 15:90-97.

Ping Y, Waro G, Licursi A, Smith S, Vo-Ba D, Tsunoda S. 2011. Shal/Kv4 channels are required for maintaining excitability during repetitive firing and normal locomotion and grooming in Drosophila. PLoS One 6(1):e16043.

Diao F, Chaufty J, Waro G, Tsunoda S. 2010. SIDL interacts with the dendritic localization motif of Shal (Kv4) K+ channels in Drosophila. Molec Cell Neurosci 45(1):75-83.

Diao F, Waro G, Tsunoda S. 2009. Fast inactivation of Shal (Kv4) K+ channels in Drosophila neurons is regulated by the novel interactor SKIP3. Molec Cell Neurosci 42:33-44.

Sanxaridis P, Cronin MA, Rawat SS, Waro G, Acharya U, Tsunoda S. 2007. Light-induced recruitment of INAD-signaling complexes to detergent-resistant lipid rafts inDrosophila photoreceptors. Molec Cell Neurosci 36:36-46.

Cronin MA, Lieu M-H, Tsunoda S. 2006. Two stage of light-dependent TRPL-channel translocation in Drosophila photoreceptors. J Cell Sci 119:2935-2944.

Cronin MA, Diao F, Tsunoda S. 2004. Light-dependent subcellular translocation of Gqa in Drosophila photoreceptors is facilitated by the photoreceptor-specific myosin III, NINAC. J Cell Sci 117:4797-4806.

Tsunoda S, Sun Y, Suzuji E, Zuker CS. 2001. Independent anchoring and assembly mechanisms of INAD signaling complexes in Drosophila photoreceptors. J Neurosci 21:150-158.

Tsunoda S, Sierralta J, Sun Y, Bodner R, Suzuki E, Becker A, Socolich M, Zuker CS. 1997. A multivalent PDZ-domain protein assembles signalling complexes in a G-protein-coupled cascade. Nature 388:243-249.

Tsunoda S, Salkoff L. 1995. The major delayed rectifier in both Drosophila neurons and muscle is encoded by Shab. J Neurosci 15:5209-5221.

Tsunoda S, Salkoff L. 1995. Genetic analysis of Drosophila neurons: Shal, Shaw, and Shab encode most embryonic potassium currents. J. Neurosci 15:1741-1754.

Butler A, Tsunoda S, McCobb D, Wei A, Salkoff L. 1993. mSlo, a complex mouse gene encoding "Maxi" calcium-activated potassium channels. Science 261:221-224.