Dr. Christine Li

Dr. Li is a molecular neurobiologist who is interested in how neurotransmitters affect behavior and how genes implicated in the pathology of familial Alzheimer’s disease function in the wild-type animal. She is a member of Area Group III, the Neurobiology subgroup.


My research focuses on two problems in neurobiology: how different neurotransmitters are used to modulate behaviors and how different genes implicated in neurodegenerative disorders function in the normal animal. We are investigating both problems in Caenorhabditis elegans, a free-living, non-parasitic soil nematode. Our analysis of neurotransmitter function focuses on a family of neuropeptides that is widely expressed throughout the animal kingdom. These peptides have diverse actions, including cardiomodulation, analgesia, and muscle contraction. At least 31 genes encode neuropeptides of this family in C. elegans. Disruption of one gene in this family leads to motor defects, suggesting that the family members are not functionally redundant. We are beginning to characterize the role of the other genes in behavior in C. elegans.


Deposition of dense plaques is one postmortem criterion used in the definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. The major component of the dense plaques is an ~40 amino acid beta-amyloid peptide that is derived from a larger amyloid protein precursor (APP). The normal function of APP, however, remains unclear. We have identified an APP-related gene, apl-1, in C. elegans. To determine the function of apl-1 in C. elegans, we inactivated apl-1and found that loss of apl-1results in larval lethality, suggesting that apl-1 has an essential function. Overexpression of apl-1leads to partial lethality. We are currently determining the cellular role of apl-1and identifying genes that interact with apl-1.




Dr. Christine Li
Department of Biology, Room MR-718
City College of New York
138th Street & Convent Avenue
New York, NY 10031
t. 212.650.8450
t. 212.650.8533 (lab)
f. 212.650.8585
Li Lab Website
Other Locations: MR-721 (laboratory)