Swati Banerjee, M.S., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor (Research)

Molecular interactions between neurons and glial cells are vital for proper functioning of nervous system across species. Interactions between neurons and glial cells are central in processes such as ensheathment of axons, formation of axo-glial junctions, and maintenance of functional blood-brain and blood-nerve barriers. I use the Drosophila nervous system to investigate the molecular basis of axonal ensheathment. Using genetic, cell biological and biochemical approaches, we have identified several proteins that have fundamental roles in neuron-glial interactions underlying the process of ensheathment of axons. Our studies in Drosophila are relevant to elucidate the mechanisms regulating vertebrate myelination in health and disease.

Another area of my research interest involves the study of synapse formation and function. Work in our laboratory has generated mutations in two key synaptic cell adhesion molecules, Neurexin and Neuroligin in Drosophila that connect the pre- and postsynaptic terminals of the synapses. In humans, mutations in Neurexin or Neuroligin genes are implicated in Autism Spectrum Disorders and other cognitive disorders. I am interested in deciphering how Neurexin/Neuroligin mediate trans-synaptic signaling and shape neural networks to process and refine information. 


Banerjee, S., Riordan, M. and Bhat, M.A. (2014). Genetic Aspects of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Insights from Animal Models. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 8:58.

Chen, Y.-C., Lin, Y.Q., Banerjee, S., Venken, K., Li, J., Ismat, A., Chen, K., Duraine, L., Bellen, H.J. and Bhat, M.A. (2012). Drosophila Neuroligin 2 is Required Presynaptically and Postsynaptically for proper Synaptic Differentiation and Synaptic Transmission. J. Neurosci.  32: 16018-16030.

Banerjee,  S., Paik, R., Mino, R.E., Blauth, K., Fisher, E.S., Madden, V.,  Fanning, A. S., and Bhat, M.A. (2011). A Laminin G-EGF-Laminin G (LEL)  Module in Drosophila Neurexin IV is Essential for the Apico-lateral  Localization of Contactin and Organization of Septate Junctions. PLos ONE 6, e25926 (1-14). 

Blauth, K., Banerjee, S. and M.A. Bhat (2010) Axonal Ensheathment and Intercellular Barrier Formation in Drosophila. International Review of Cell and Molecular Biology 283, 93-128.

Banerjee, S., Blauth, K., Peters, K., Rogers, S. L., Fanning, A. S. and M.A. Bhat 2010. Drosophila Neurexin IV interacts with Roundabout and is required for repulsive midline axon guidance. Journal of Neuroscience 30, 5653-5667.

Wheeler, S., Banerjee, S., Blauth, K., Rogers, S., Crews, S. and M. A. Bhat. 2009. Neurexin IV and Wrapper interactions mediate Drosophila midline glial migration and axonal ensheathment. Development 136, 1147-57. 

Banerjee, S., R.J. Bainton, Mayer, N., Beckstead, R. and M. A. Bhat. 2008. Septate junctions are required for ommatidial integrity and blood-eye barrier formation in Drosophila. Developmental Biology 317, 585-99. (Cover)

Banerjee, S. and M. A. Bhat. 2008. Glial ensheathment of peripheral axons in Drosophila. Journal of Neuroscience Research 86, 1189-98.

Banerjee, S. and Bhat, M.A. 2007. Neuron-glial interactions in blood-brain barrier formation. Annual Review of Neuroscience 30, 235-258.

Wu, V, M., Yu, M., Paik, R., Banerjee, S., Liang, Z., Paul, S. M., Bhat, M. A. and Beitel, G. J. 2007. Varicose encodes a member of a new subgroup of basolateral MAGUKs and is required for Drosophila septate junction formation. Development 134, 999-1009.

Banerjee, S., Sousa, A.D. and M.A. Bhat. 2006. Organization and function of septate junctions: An evolutionary perspective. Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics 45, 65-77.

Banerjee, S., Paik, R., Pillai, A. M. and M.A. Bhat. 2006. Axonal Ensheathment and Septate Junction Formation in the Peripheral Nervous System of Drosophila. Journal of Neuroscience 26, 3319-3329.

Faivre-Sarrailh, C.*, S. Banerjee*, J. Li, M. Laval, M. Hortsch, and M.A. Bhat. 2004. Drosophila Contactin, a homolog of vertebrate contactin is required for septate junction organization and paracellular barrier function. Development 131, 4931-4942. (*Co-First Authors).

Mishra, A.*, Agrawal, N.*, Banerjee, S.*, Sardesai, D., Dalal, J.S., Bhojwani, J., Sinha, P. 2001. Spatial regulation of DELTA expression mediates NOTCH signaling for segmentation of Drosophila legs. Mechanisms of Development 105, 115-127. 
(*Co-First Authors)