David Deitcher

Associate Professor


The development of the nervous system is a complex process involving cell division, neuronal specification, migration, and synapse formation. Building a well-functioning nervous system requires the precise developmental expression of genes. To investigate genes that are important for regulating the excitability, our lab is using Drosophila to uncover the developmental pathways leading to epilepsy. Our laboratory is also collaborating with the Levitan lab on neuropeptide mobility and secretion.


Research Focus

Approximately 50 million people worldwide suffer from epilepsy.  While there are many different types of seizures, uncontrolled neural activity is shared by all forms of epilepsy.  A class of Drosophila mutants, known as bang-sensitives, reproduces many aspects of the human disease.  My laboratory recently identified a novel gene, julius seizure (jus), that causes seizures when mutated.  We are currently identifying proteins that interact with Jus in order to identify the molecular pathways of epileptogenesis.  To hear more about this work on the Locally Sourced Science podcast click this link.



  • Juan T, Bulgari D, Berkhoudt D, Calderon MJ, Watkins SC, Fonseca Velez HJ, Sabeva N, Deitcher D, and Levitan E. Ptp4E Regulates Vesicular Packaging for Monoamine-Neuropeptide Co-transmission, Journal of Cell Science, in press.

  • Vilinsky I, Hibbard KL, Johnson BR, Deitcher DL. (2018) Probing Synaptic Transmission and Behavior in Drosophila with Optogenetics: A Laboratory Exercise. J Undergrad Neurosci Educ. 16:A289-A295.

  • Bulgari D, Jha A, Deitcher DL, Levitan ES (2018) Myopic (HD-PTP, PTPN23) selectively regulates synaptic neuropeptide release. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 115:1617-1622.

  • Dean D, Weinstein H, Amin S, Karno B, McAvoy E, Hoy R, Recknagel A, Jarvis C, Deitcher D (2018) Extending julius seizure, a bang-sensitive gene, as a model for studying epileptogenesis: Cold shock, and a new insertional mutation. Fly, ahead of print. Link to 2018 article.
  • Tao J, Bulgari D, Deitcher DL, Levitan ES (2017) Limited distal organelles and synaptic function in extensive monoaminergic innervation. J Cell Sci 130:2520-2529.
  • Hoy RR, Deitcher DL (2017) Sound and fury: Modulation of aggressive behavior through acoustic signals. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 114:2443-2444.

  • Bulgari D, Deitcher DL, Levitan ES (2017) Loss of Huntingtin stimulates capture of retrograde dense-core vesicles to increase synaptic neuropeptide stores. Eur J Cell Biol 96:402-406.

  • Horne M, Krebushevski K, Wells A, Tunio N, Jarvis C, Francisco G, Geiss J, Recknagel A, Deitcher DL (2017)  julius seizure, a Drosophila Mutant, Defines a Neuronal Population Underlying Epileptogenesis. Genetics 205:1261-1269.

  • Cavolo SL, Bulgari D, Deitcher DL, Levitan ES (2016) Activity Induces Fmr1-Sensitive Synaptic Capture of Anterograde Circulating Neuropeptide Vesicles. J Neurosci 36:11781-11787.

  • Stone MC, Weiner AT, Gheres KW, Zhou C, Deitcher DL, Levitan ES, Rolls MM (2016) Spastin, atlastin, and ER relocalization are involved in axon but not dendrite regeneration Mol Biol Cell  27:3245-3256.

  • Dean DM, Maroja LS, Cottrill S, Bomkamp BE, Westervelt KA, Deitcher DL (2015) The wavy Mutation Maps to the Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate 3-Kinase 2 (IP3K2) Gene of Drosophila and Interacts with IP3R to Affect Wing Development. G3 6:299-310. Link to 2015 article.
  • Lawton KJ, Wassmer TL, Deitcher DL. (2014) Conserved role of Drosophila melanogaster FoxP in motor coordination and courtship song. Behav Brain Res. 268:213-21.
  • Bulgari D, Zhou C, Hewes RS, Deitcher DL, Levitan ES. (2014) Vesicle capture, not delivery, scales up neuropeptide storage in neuroendocrine terminals. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 111:3597-601.
  • Gallant JR, Hopkins CD, Deitcher DL. (2012) Differential expression of genes and proteins between electric organ and skeletal muscle in the mormyrid electric fish Brienomyrus brachyistius. J Exp Biol. 215:2479-94
  • Wong MY, Zhou C, Shakiryanova D, Lloyd TE, Deitcher DL, Levitan ES. (2012) Neuropeptide delivery to synapses by long-range vesicle circulation and sporadic capture. Cell 148:1029-38.

BIONB Courses - Spring 2024