Wesley Grueber, PhD

  • Professor of Physiology & Cellular Biophysics
  • Professor of Neuroscience
Profile Headshot


Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Physiology & Cellular Biophysics
  • Professor of Neuroscience

Administrative Titles

  • Co-Director, Doctoral Program in Neurobiology and Behavior

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • BS, 1993 Biological Sciences, University of California, Irvine
  • PhD, 2000 Zoology, University of Washington
  • 2005 Postdoc, University of California, San Francisco


Dendrites and axons show extraordinarily diverse forms and modes of patterning, with important implications for nervous system wiring and neuronal function. Our lab is interested in how neurons acquire their type-specific morphology and organization and how this organization underlies circuit function. To approach this problem, we use molecular, genetic, anatomical, and behavioral approaches to identify the mechanisms that sculpt somatosensory circuits during development.

Using the fruit flyDrosophilawe can dissect the mechanisms of nervous system patterning and function with cell type specificity. For example we identified the mechanisms that allow branches from the same cell to spread from each other to cover their appropriate territory, a basic feature of most or all neuronal arbors. This process of “self-avoidance” is controlled by the highly diversified homophilic immunoglobulin superfamily member Dscam1. We also showed that repulsion is also enforced by integrin receptors for the extracellular matrix.

Current interests in the lab include 1) identification of interneuron populations that transmit somatosensory information and the contribution of these neurons to behavior (see Burgos et al., 2018), 2) the mechanisms that underlie specific connectivity between primary sensory neurons and target interneurons, 3) cell-extrinsic cues that mediate targeting and morphogenesis of both dendrites and axons, and 4) imaging neuronal activity and behavior in intact Drosophila larvae to shed light on neural circuit function, in collaboration with the Hillman lab at the Zuckerman Institute (see Vaadia & Li, et al., 2019).

Research Interests

  • Axon Pathfinding and Synaptogenesis
  • Cell Specification and Differentiation
  • Neural Degeneration and Repair
  • Synapses and Circuits

Selected Publications

Shin, G.J., Pero, M.E., Hammond, L.A., Burgos, A., Kumar, A., Galindo, S.E., Lucas, T., Bartolini, F., Grueber, W.B. (2021). Integrins protect sensory neurons in models of paclitaxel-induced peripheral sensory neuropathy.Proc Natl Acad Sci USA.Vol. 118, No. 15.*Vaadia, R., *Li, W., Voleti, V., Singhania, A., #Hillman E.M.C., and #Grueber, W.B. (2019) Characterization of proprioceptive system dynamics in behaving Drosophila larvae using high-speed volumetric microscopy. Curr Biol 29:935-944.Burgos A., Honjo K., Ohyama T., Qian C.S., Shin G.J., Gohl D.M., Silies M., Tracey W.D., Zlatic M., Cardona A., Grueber W.B. (2018) Nociceptive interneurons control modular motor pathways to promote escape behavior in Drosophila. eLife 2018;7:e26016 doi: 10.7554/eLife.26016.Qian C.S., Kaplow M., Lee J.K., Grueber W.B. (2018). Diversity of internal sensory neuron axon projections is controlled by the POU-domain protein Pdm3 in Drosophila larvae. J Neurosci. 38 (8):2081-2093.Corty M.M., Tam J., and Grueber W.B. (2016). Dendritic diversification through transcription factor mediated suppression of alternative morphologies. Development 143:1351-1362.Bouchard M.B., Voleti V., Mendes C.S., Grueber W.B., Mann R.S., Bruno R.M., Hillman E.M.C (2015) Swept confocally-aligned planar excitation (SCAPE) microscopy for high-speed volumetric imaging of behaving organisms. Nature Photonics 9:113-119.Singhania, A, Grueber W.B. (2014) Development of the embryonic and larval peripheral nervous system of Drosophila. WIREs Developmental Biology 3:193-210.Ziegenfuss J.S., Grueber W.B. (2013) SAX-7 and Menorin light the path for dendrite morphogenesis. Cell 155:269-271.Grueber, W.B. (2013) Dendrite Development: Invertebrates, In: J.L.R. Rubenstein and P. Rakic editors: Comprehensive Developmental Neuroscience: Cellular Migration and Formation of Neuronal Connections, Amsterdam: Academic Press, pp. 191-212. Zipursky, S.L., Grueber W.B. (2013) The molecular basis of self-avoidance. Ann Rev Neurosci. 26:547-568.Kim M.E., Shrestha B.R., Blazeski R., Mason C.A., Grueber W.B. (2012) Integrins establish dendrite-substrate relationships that promote dendritic self-avoidance and patterning in Drosophila sensory neurons. Neuron 73:79-91.Matthews B.J., Grueber W.B. (2011) Dscam1-mediated self-avoidance counters netrin-dependent targeting of dendrites in Drosophila. Curr Biol 21:1480-1487.Hattori D., Chen Y., Matthews B.J., Salwinski L., Sabatti C., Grueber W.B., Zipursky S.L. (2009) Robust discrimination between self and non-self neurites requires thousands of Dscam1 isoforms. Nature 461:644-648.Grueber W.B., Sagasti A. (2010) Self-avoidance and Tiling: Mechanisms of Dendrite and Axon Spacing. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a001750.Zlatic M., Li F., Strigini M., Grueber W., Bate M. (2009). Positional Cues in the Drosophila Nerve Cord: Semaphorins Pattern the Dorso-Ventral Axis. PLoS Biol 7(6): e1000135.Corty M.M., Matthews B.J., Grueber W.B. (2009). Molecules and mechanisms of dendrite development in Drosophila. Development 136:1049-1061. Matthews B.J., Kim M.E., Flanagan J.J., Hattori D., Clemens J.C., Zipursky S.L., Grueber W.B. (2007). Dendrite self-avoidance is controlled by Dscam. Cell 129:593-604.