Troy Littleton

Troy Littleton

Menicon Professor of Biology and The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory

Troy Littleton is interested in how neuronal connections form and function, and how neurological disease disrupts synaptic communication.






Charles Moss



Assistant Phone


  • PhD, 1994, Baylor College of Medicine; MD, 1997, Baylor College of Medicine
  • BS, 1989, Biochemistry, Louisiana State University

Research Summary

Using Drosophila, we study how neurons form synaptic connections, as well as how synapses transmit information and change during learning and memory. We also investigate how alterations in neuronal signaling underlie several neurological diseases, including epilepsy, autism, and Huntington’s Disease. We hope to bridge the gap between the molecular components of the synapse and the physiological responses they mediate.

Key Publications

  1. A synaptotagmin suppressor screen indicates SNARE binding controls the timing and Ca2+ cooperativity of vesicle fusion. Guan, Z, Bykhovskaia, M, Jorquera, RA, Sutton, RB, Akbergenova, Y, Littleton, JT. 2017. Elife 6, .
    doi: 10.7554/eLife.28409PMID:28895532
  2. Phosphorylation of Complexin by PKA Regulates Activity-Dependent Spontaneous Neurotransmitter Release and Structural Synaptic Plasticity. Cho, RW, Buhl, LK, Volfson, D, Tran, A, Li, F, Akbergenova, Y, Littleton, JT. 2015. Neuron 88, 749-61.
    doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.10.011PMID:26590346
  3. Spontaneous and evoked release are independently regulated at individual active zones. Melom, JE, Akbergenova, Y, Gavornik, JP, Littleton, JT. 2013. J Neurosci 33, 17253-63.
    doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3334-13.2013PMID:24174659
  4. A complexin fusion clamp regulates spontaneous neurotransmitter release and synaptic growth. Huntwork, S, Littleton, JT. 2007. Nat Neurosci 10, 1235-7.
    doi: 10.1038/nn1980PMID:17873870
  5. Retrograde signaling by Syt 4 induces presynaptic release and synapse-specific growth. Yoshihara, M, Adolfsen, B, Galle, KT, Littleton, JT. 2005. Science 310, 858-63.
    doi: 10.1126/science.1117541PMID:16272123

Recent Publications

  1. Glial ER and GAP junction mediated Ca2+ waves are crucial to maintain normal brain excitability. Weiss, S, Clamon, LC, Manoim, JE, Ormerod, KG, Parnas, M, Littleton, JT. 2021. Glia , .
    doi: 10.1002/glia.24092PMID:34528727
  2. SNARE Regulatory Proteins in Synaptic Vesicle Fusion and Recycling. Sauvola, CW, Littleton, JT. 2021. Front Mol Neurosci 14, 733138.
    doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2021.733138PMID:34421538
  3. Function of Drosophila Synaptotagmins in membrane trafficking at synapses. Quiñones-Frías, MC, Littleton, JT. 2021. Cell Mol Life Sci 78, 4335-4364.
    doi: 10.1007/s00018-021-03788-9PMID:33619613
  4. Synaptic Properties and Plasticity Mechanisms of Invertebrate Tonic and Phasic Neurons. Aponte-Santiago, NA, Littleton, JT. 2020. Front Physiol 11, 611982.
    doi: 10.3389/fphys.2020.611982PMID:33391026
  5. Synaptic Plasticity Induced by Differential Manipulation of Tonic and Phasic Motoneurons in Drosophila. Aponte-Santiago, NA, Ormerod, KG, Akbergenova, Y, Littleton, JT. 2020. J Neurosci 40, 6270-6288.
    doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0925-20.2020PMID:32631939
  6. Drosophila Synaptotagmin 7 negatively regulates synaptic vesicle release and replenishment in a dosage-dependent manner. Guan, Z, Quiñones-Frías, MC, Akbergenova, Y, Littleton, JT. 2020. Elife 9, .
    doi: 10.7554/eLife.55443PMID:32343229
  7. Synaptic Plasticity: Close Encounters of the Tonic and Phasic Kind. Cunningham, KL, Littleton, JT. 2019. Curr Biol 29, R1196-R1198.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.09.033PMID:31743679
  8. Glial Ca2+signaling links endocytosis to K+ buffering around neuronal somas to regulate excitability. Weiss, S, Melom, JE, Ormerod, KG, Zhang, YV, Littleton, JT. 2019. Elife 8, .
    doi: 10.7554/eLife.44186PMID:31025939
  9. Neurons regulate synaptic strength through homeostatic scaling of active zones. Cunningham, KL, Littleton, JT. 2019. J Cell Biol 218, 1434-1435.
    doi: 10.1083/jcb.201903065PMID:30979798
  10. Characterization of developmental and molecular factors underlying release heterogeneity at Drosophila synapses. Akbergenova, Y, Cunningham, KL, Zhang, YV, Weiss, S, Littleton, JT. 2018. Elife 7, .
    doi: 10.7554/eLife.38268PMID:29989549
More Publications


Photo credit: Richard Cho