Ishmail Abdus-Saboor


Mitchell J. and Margo K. Blutt Presidential Assistant Professor of Biology



B.S., Animal Science, summa cum laude, North Carolina A&T University, 2006

Ph.D., Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Pennsylvania, 2012

Research Interests

The nervous system is exquisitely tuned to mount the appropriate behavioral response to sensory stimuli ranging from a gentle caress to a harsh mechanical insult. How our nervous systems encode this information, from the level of sensory neuron activation in peripheral tissues up towards the central nervous system, in both normal and diseased states, remains enigmatic. Taking advantage of mouse molecular and genetic tools, the Abdus-Saboor lab is addressing important questions about sensory system perception – from the level of the gene to the level of organismal behavior. Using an integrative approach spanning molecular optogenetics, quantitative analysis of kinematic behavioral movement features, neural circuit tracing, in vivo calcium imaging, and electrophysiology, our overall goal is to increase our basic understanding of the mechanisms governing somatosensory encoding, with a particular focus on pain.

Selected Publications

Ishmail Abdus-Saboor†, Vincent P. Mancuso†, John I. Murray, Katherine Palozola, Carolyn Norris, David Hall, Kelly Howell, Kai Huang, Meera V. Sundaram. Notch and Ras promote sequential steps of excretory tube development in C.elegans. Development 138, 3545–3555 (2011). Research Highlight in Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology 12, 549 (2011).

Ishmail Abdus-Saboor, Craig Stone, John I. Murray, Meera Sundaram. The Nkx5/Hmx homeodomain protein MLS-2 is required for proper tube cell shape in the C.elegans excretory system. Developmental Biology 366, 298–307 (2012).

Alexander Fleischmann, Ishmail Abdus-Saboor, Atef Sayed, Benjamin Shykind. Functional interrogation of an odorant receptor locus reveals multiple axes of transcriptional regulation. PLoS Biology 11(5):e1001568 (2013).

Ishmail Abdus-Saboor, Alexander Fleischmann, Benjamin Shykind. Setting limits: maintaining order in a large gene family. Transcription 5:e28978 (2014).

Ishmail Abdus-Saboor, Muhammad Al-Nufal, Maha Agha, M. Ruinart de Brimont, Alexander Fleischmann, Benjamin Shykind. An expression refinement process ensures singular odorant receptor gene choice. Current Biology 26, 1083–90 (2016).

Lian Cui†, Xuerong Miao†, Lingli Liang, Ishmail Abdus-Saboor, William Olson, Michael Fleming, Minghong Ma ,Yuanxiang Tao, Wenqin Luo. Identification of early RET+ deep dorsal spinal cord interneurons in gating pain. Neuron 91, 1–17 (2016). 

William Olson, Ishmail Abdus-Saboor†, Lian Cui† , Justin Burdge, Tobias Raabe, Minghong Ma, and Wenqin Luo. Sparse genetic tracing reveals regionally specific functional organization of mammalian nociceptors. eLife 6:e29507 (2017)

Ishmail Abdus-Saboor, Nathan Fried†, Mark Lay, Justin Burdge, Peter Dong, Ming Lu, Long Ding, Xinzhong Dong, Wenqin Luo. High-Speed Imaging of Paw Withdrawal Reflex to Objectively Assess Pain State in Mice. bioRxiv 263400 (2018)