Synaptic Plasticity

We are interested in discovering how mRNA localisation at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) influences the growth of new neurons and how it effects how those neurons develop. We also aim to understand how the activity level of neurons changes how they grow and develop. This research area has potential to increase our understanding of processes such as memory and learning

DeepSim Super-resolution microscope

In collaboration with the Micron advanced imaging unit, we are working on developing a cutting-edge bespoke structural illumination microscope to enhance our capabilities of working on fly neuromuscular junctions.


This project aims to develop a low-cost open microscopy platform. The system being developed uses a low-cost microprocessor, the Raspberry Pi, to interface with hardware and provide a user-friendly microscope interface. The project is developed with a strong focus on designing the microscope as a learning tool. To this end, the microscope will be low-cost, robust, and include many elements that can be fabricated using a 3d printer.

Selected Publications

Advanced Microscopy Development

Orcid Profile

Dorso-ventral patterning in the Drosophila oocyte 

We use advanced microscopy techniques, coupled with a range of genetic and biochemical techniques to try to understand how RNA localisation impacts on early patterning and development in Drosophila embryos and ooctyes.

Micron Advanced bioImaging Unit

Early Patterning in Drosophila


  1. Yang L, Titlow J, Ennis D, Smith C, Mitchell J, Young FL, Waddell S, Ish-Horowicz D, Davis I. (2017) Single molecule fluorescence in situ hybridisation for quantitating post-transcriptional regulation in Drosophila brains. Methods. pdf​​
  2. Yang L, Samuels TJ, Arava Y, Robertson F, Järvelin AI, Yang C-P, Lee T, Ish-Horowicz D,   Davis I. (2017) Regulating prospero mRNA Stability Determines When Neural Stem Cells Stop Dividing. bioRxiv pre-print.
  3. Yang C-P, Samuels TJ, Huang Y, Yang L, Ish-Horowicz D, Davis I, Lee T. (2017). Imp/Syp Temporal Gradients Govern Decommissioning Of Drosophila Neural Stem Cells. bioRxiv pre-print. 
  4. Joshua S Titlow LY, Richard M. Parton, Ana Palanca, Ilan Davis. (2017) Super-resolution single molecule FISH at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction. In press, MiMB. 
  5. Pratt M, Titlow S, Davis I., Barker AR, Dawe HR, Raff JW, Roque H. (2016). Drosophila sensory cilia lacking MKS-proteins exhibit striking defects in development but only subtle defects in adults. J Cell Sci   doi: 10.1242/jcs.194621 pdf
  6. Järvelin A, Noerenberg M, Davis I, and Castello A. (2016). The new (dis)order in RNA regulation. Cell Commun Signal: 14, 9 pdf
  7. Davidson A, Parton RM, Rabouille C, Weil TT, Davis I. (2016) Localized Translation of gurken/TGF-α mRNA during Axis Specification Is Controlled by Access to Orb/CPEB on Processing Bodies. Cell Rep. 14, 1-12.  pii: S2211-1247(16)30141-3. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.02.038 pdf
  8. Parton RM, Davidson A, Davis I, Weil TT. (2014) Subcellular localisation at a glance. J. Cell Sci. 127(Pt 10):2127-33 pdf
  9. Halstead JM, Lin YQ, Durraine L, Hamilton RS, Ball G, Neely GG, Bellen HJ, Davis I. (2014) Syncrip/hnRNP Q influences synaptic transmission and regulates BMP signaling at the Drosophila neuromuscular synapse. Biol Open. 3(9):839-49. pdf
  10. McDermott SM, Yang L, Halstead JM, Hamilton RS, Meignin C, Davis I. (2014) Drosophila Syncrip modulates the expression of mRNAs encoding key synaptic proteins required for morphology at the neuromuscular junction. RNA. 2014 Oct;20(10):1593-606 pdf

                                      Full list of publications on Pubmed

Neural Stem Cell Development

Control of neurogenesis in the Drosophila larval brain

In this project we are working on understanding what mechanism determines control of neurogenesis from the stem cells found in the brains of fly larvae.

Screening for novel localising RNAs in the larval brain and NMJ

​A wide-ranging screen to identify and characterise RNA that localise in the Drosophila nervous system.

Alongside my own research lab, I am also the Director of Micron, a collaborative, multidisciplinary bioimaging unit. Micron works with biomedical researchers across Oxford and beyond to apply advanced cellular imaging techniques to address key biological questions. More details can be found on the Micron website.

Role of RNA-binding proteins in neural stem cell differentiation

Utilising a combination of sequencing-based techniques and bioinformatics we aim to better understand how RNA-binding proteins are involved in determining what cell types develop from stem cells in the Drosophila larval brain.