Meet Zandawala profile pic

Meet R Zandawala


Visa sidan på svenska
Works at Department of Zoology
Telephone 08-16 40 87
Visiting address Svante Arrheniusväg 18 B
Room D 421
Postal address Zoologiska institutionen: Funktionell zoomorfologi 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Neuropeptides and their cognate G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are signalling molecules that regulate many vital processes, including feeding, reproduction and development. These signalling molecules are widespread throughout the animal kingdom and in several cases, clear homologs can be identified in both protostomes (invertebrates) and deuterostomes (vertebrates and some invertebrates). I am interested in identifying and characterizing invertebrate neuropeptides and GPCRs and in determining the processes they regulate within the animal. My PhD thesis (with Dr. Ian Orchard at University of Toronto) focussed on various neuropeptidergic signalling systems (calcitonin-like diuretic hormone, allatostatin and adipokinetic hormone) in the blood-sucking bug, Rhodnius prolixus. During my first postdoctoral research with Dr. Maurice Elphick at Queen Mary University of London, I worked on the SALMFamide signalling system in the starfish,Asterias rubens. Using a combination of molecular biology, physiology, cell biology and bioinformatics, I  characterized this signalling system and determined the roles it plays in starfish. Currently, I am working in Dr. Dick Nassel's laboratory as part of the EU H2020 funded nEUROSTRESSPEP consortium. I am utilizing Drosophila melanogaster as a model to investigate molecular genetics of neuropeptide signaling and unravel mechanisms in hormonal control of stress responses. The aim is to produce leads to peptide mimetic analogs and genetic insect pest management. 


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2018. Meet Zandawala (et al.). Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences (CMLS) 75 (6), 1099-1115

    Multiple neuropeptides are known to regulate water and ion balance in Drosophila melanogaster. Several of these peptides also have other functions in physiology and behavior. Examples are corticotropin-releasing factor-like diuretic hormone (diuretic hormone 44; DH44) and leucokinin (LK), both of which induce fluid secretion by Malpighian tubules (MTs), but also regulate stress responses, feeding, circadian activity and other behaviors. Here, we investigated the functional relations between the LK and DH44 signaling systems. DH44 and LK peptides are only colocalized in a set of abdominal neurosecretory cells (ABLKs). Targeted knockdown of each of these peptides in ABLKs leads to increased resistance to desiccation, starvation and ionic stress. Food ingestion is diminished by knockdown of DH44, but not LK, and water retention is increased by LK knockdown only. Thus, the two colocalized peptides display similar systemic actions, but differ with respect to regulation of feeding and body water retention. We also demonstrated that DH44 and LK have additive effects on fluid secretion by MTs. It is likely that the colocalized peptides are coreleased from ABLKs into the circulation and act on the tubules where they target different cell types and signaling systems to regulate diuresis and stress tolerance. Additional targets seem to be specific for each of the two peptides and subserve regulation of feeding and water retention. Our data suggest that the ABLKs and hormonal actions are sufficient for many of the known DH44 and LK functions, and that the remaining neurons in the CNS play other functional roles.

  • Article DINeR
    2017. Joseph G. C. Yeoh (et al.). Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 86, 9-19

    Neuropeptides are responsible for regulating a variety of functions, including development, metabolism, water and ion homeostasis, and as neuromodulators in circuits of the central nervous system. Numerous neuropeptides have been identified and characterized. However, both discovery and functional characterization of neuropeptides across the massive Class Insecta has been sporadic. To leverage advances in post-genomic technologies for this rapidly growing field, insect neuroendocrinology requires a consolidated, comprehensive and standardised resource for managing neuropeptide information. The Database for Insect Neuropeptide Research (DINeR) is a web-based database-application used for search and retrieval of neuropeptide information of various insect species detailing their isoform sequences, physiological functionality and images of their receptor-binding sites, in an intuitive, accessible and user-friendly format. The curated data includes representatives of 50 well described neuropeptide families from over 400 different insect species. Approximately 4700 FASTA formatted, neuropeptide isoform amino acid sequences and over 200 records of physiological functionality have been recorded based on published literature. Also available are images of neuropeptide receptor locations. In addition, the data include comprehensive summaries for each neuropeptide family, including their function, location, known functionality, as well as cladograms, sequence alignments and logos covering most insect orders. Moreover, we have adopted a standardised nomenclature to address inconsistent classification of neuropeptides. As part of the H2020 nEUROSTRESSPEP project, the data will be actively maintained and curated, ensuring a comprehensive and standardised resource for the scientific community. DINeR is publicly available at the project website:

  • 2016. Olga I. Kubrak (et al.). Open Biology 6 (11)

    Stress triggers cellular and systemic reactions in organisms to restore homeostasis. For instance, metabolic stress, experienced during starvation, elicits a hormonal response that reallocates resources to enable food search and readjustment of physiology. Mammalian gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and its insect orthologue, adipokinetic hormone (AKH), are known for their roles in modulating stress-related behaviour. Here we show that corazonin (Crz), a peptide homologous to AKH/GnRH, also alters stress physiology in Drosophila. The Crz receptor (CrzR) is expressed in salivary glands and adipocytes of the liver-like fat body, and CrzR knockdown targeted simultaneously to both these tissues increases the fly's resistance to starvation, desiccation and oxidative stress, reduces feeding, alters expression of transcripts of Drosophila insulin-like peptides (DILPs), and affects gene expression in the fat body. Furthermore, in starved flies, CrzR-knockdown increases circulating and stored carbohydrates. Thus, our findings indicate that elevated systemic Crz signalling during stress coordinates increased food intake and diminished energy stores to regain metabolic homeostasis. Our study suggests that an ancient stress-peptide in Urbilateria evolved to give rise to present-day GnRH, AKH and Crz signalling systems.

Show all publications by Meet R Zandawala at Stockholm University

Last updated: June 5, 2018

Bookmark and share Tell a friend