Dr Denise Walker

University position

Senior Scientist




Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology

Home page


Research Theme

Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


Senior Scientist, Bill Schafer’s lab, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology.

A key focus of my research is the molecular and circuit basis of mechanosensation; the molecules responsible (innexins, degenerin/epithelial Na+ channels (DEG/ENaCs)) and protein interactions that modulate their function.

C. elegans has 30 DEG/ENaCs, many of which remained uncharacterised. A second major focus is to characterise their channel properties and correlate these with cellular and behavioural functions, particularly with respect to the role of protons in cell signalling and plasticity.

I love outreach. I have taken my “Worms are cleverer than you think” activity to schools, science festivals, online (Worms (cam.ac.uk)) and even to a shopping centre. I am especially proud of a collaboration with dance, music and science students, who created a performance inspired by my research.

Research Focus


None specified

Clinical conditions

Acidosis-related pathologies and pain

Collaborations involving Alzheimers', Parkinsons's and autism genes

No direct clinical relevance


Behavioural analysis

Calcium imaging

Confocal microscopy

Fluorescence microscopy


Laser ablation

Protein interactions



Prof Brian Ackley Web: https://ackleylab.wordpress.com/the-ack...

Dr Thomas Boulin Web: http://www.excitingworms.eu/thomas.php

Dr Keith Nehrke Web: https://www.nehrkelab.com/

Dr Rafael Vazquez-Manrique Web: https://www.iislafe.es/es/inve...

Associated News Items

    Key publications

    Kaulich E, Carroll T, Ackley B, Tang YQ, Hardege I, Nehrke K, Schafer WR & Walker DS (2022), “Distinct roles for two Caenorhabditis elegans acid-sensing ion channels in an ultradian clock” eLife 11, e75837

    Kaulich E, McCubbin PTN, Schafer WR & Walker DS. (2022), “Physiological insight into the conserved properties of Caenorhabditis elegans acid-sensing DEG/ENaCs” J Physiol doi: 10.1113/JP283238

    Walker DS, Schafer WR (2020), “Distinct roles for innexin gap junctions and hemichannels in mechanosensation” eLife 9, e50597

    Yan G, Vértes PE, Towlson EK, Chew YL, Walker DS, Schafer WR & Barabási AL. (2017), “Network control principles predict neuron function in the Caenorhabditis elegans connectome” Nature 550, 519-523



    Kaulich E, Grundy LJ, Schafer WR, Walker DS (2022), “The diverse functions of the DEG/ENaC family: linking genetic and physiological insights” J Physiol doi: 10.1113/JP283335


    Kaulich E, Walker DS, Tang YQ, Schafer WR (2021), “The Caenorhabditis elegans tmc-1 is involved in egg-laying inhibition in response to harsh touch” MicroPublication Biology Aug 16;2021: 10.17912/000439


    Hesselson D, Walker DS, Massingham JN, Schafer WR, Neely GG, Chew YL (2020), “Invertebrate Models of Nociception” The Oxford Handbook of the Neurobiology of Pain


    Loucks CM, Park K, Walker DS, McEwan AH, Timbers TA, Ardiel EL, Grundy LJ, Li C, Johnson JL, Kennedy J, Blacque OE, Schafer W, Rankin CH & Leroux MR. (2019), “EFHC1, implicated in juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, functions at the cilium and synapse to modulate dopamine signaling” eLife 8:e37271


    Towlson EK, Vértes PE, Yan G, Chew YL, Walker DS, Schafer WR & Barabási AL. (2018), “Caenorhabditis elegans and the network control framework-FAQs” Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 373(1758)


    Chew YL, Walker DS, Towlson EK, Vértes PE, Yan G, Barabási AL & Schafer WR. (2017), “Recordings of Caenorhabditis elegans locomotor behaviour following targeted ablation of single motorneurons” Sci Data 4, 170156

    Walker DS, Chew YL & Schafer WR. (2017), “Genetics of Behavior in C. elegans” In John H. Byrne, (ed) The Oxford Handbook of Invertebrate Neurobiology. Oxford University Press


    Ezcurra M, Walker DS, Beets I, Swoboda P & Schafer WR. (2016), “Neuropeptidergic Signaling and Active Feeding State Inhibit Nociception in Caenorhabditis elegans” J. Neurosci. 36, 3157-3169

    Loucks CM, Bialas NJ, Dekkers MP, Walker DS, Grundy LJ, Li C, Inglis PN, Kida K, Schafer WR, Blacque OE, Jansen G & Leroux MR. (2016), “PACRG, a protein linked to ciliary motility, mediates cellular signaling” Mol. Biol. Cell 27, 2133-2144

    Rabinowitch I, Laurent P, Zhao B, Walker D, Beets I, Schoofs L, Bai J, Schafer WR & Treinin M. (2016), “Neuropeptide-Driven Cross-Modal Plasticity following Sensory Loss in Caenorhabditis elegans” PLoS Biology 14, e1002348


    Parker S, Walker DS, Ly S & Baylis HA. (2009), “Caveolin-2 is required for apical lipid trafficking and suppresses basolateral recycling defects in the intestine of Caenorhabditis elegans” Mol Biol Cell 20, 1763-1771

    Walker DS, Vazquez-Manrique RP, Gower NJ, Gregory E, Schafer WR & Baylis HA. (2009), “Inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate signalling regulates the avoidance response to nose touch in Caenorhabditis elegans” PLoS Genetics 5, e1000636


    Gower NJ, Walker DS & Baylis HA. (2005), “Inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate signaling regulates mating behavior in Caenorhabditis elegans males” Mol. Biol. Cell 16, 3978-3986


    Walker DS, Ly S, Gower NJ & Baylis HA. (2004), “IRI-1, a LIN-15B homologue, interacts with inositol-1,4,5-triphosphate receptors and regulates gonadogenesis, defecation, and pharyngeal pumping in Caenorhabditis elegans” Mol Biol Cell 15, 3073-3082


    Walker DS, Gower NJ, Ly S, Bradley GL & Baylis HA. (2002), “Regulated disruption of inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate signaling in Caenorhabditis elegans reveals new functions in feeding and embryogenesis” Mol Biol Cell 13, 1329-1337

    Walker DS, Ly S, Lockwood KC & Baylis HA. (2002), “A direct interaction between IP(3) receptors and myosin II regulates IP(3) signaling in C. elegans” Curr Biol 12, 951-956


    Miguel-Aliaga I, Culetto E, Walker DS, Baylis HA, Sattelle DB & Davies KE. (1999), “The Caenorhabditis elegans orthologue of the human gene responsible for spinal muscular atrophy is a maternal product critical for germline maturation and embryonic viability” Hum Mol Genet 8, 2133-2143

    Raymond C, Walker D, Bichet D, Iborra C, Martin-Moutot N, Seagar M & De Waard M. (1999), “Antibodies against the beta subunit of voltage-dependent calcium channels in Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome.” Neuroscience 90, 269-277

    Walker D, Bichet D, Geib S, Mori E, Cornet V, Snutch TP, Mori Y & De Waard M. (1999), “A new beta subtype-specific interaction in alpha1A subunit controls P/Q-type Ca2+ channel activation.” J Biol Chem 274, 12383-12390


    Walker D & De Waard M. (1998), “Subunit interaction sites in voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels: role in channel function” Trends in Neurosciences 21, 148-154

    Walker D, Bichet D, Campbell KP & De Waard M. (1998), “A beta 4 isoform-specific interaction site in the carboxyl-terminal region of the voltage-dependent Ca2+ channel alpha 1A subunit” J Biol Chem 273, 2361-2367


    Charvin N, L'Evêque C, Walker D, Berton F, Raymond C, Kataoka M, Shoji-Kasai Y, Takahashi M, De Waard M & Seagar MJ (1997), “Direct interaction of the calcium sensor protein synaptotagmin I with a cytoplasmic domain of the alpha1A subunit of the P/Q-type calcium channel” EMBO J 16, 4591-4596

    De Waard M, Liu H, Walker D, Scott VE, Gurnett CA & Campbell KP. (1997), “Direct binding of G-protein betagamma complex to voltage-dependent calcium channels” Nature 385, 446-450


    Walker D, Chaddock AM, Chaddock JA, Roberts LM, Lord JM & Robinson C. (1996), “Ricin A chain fused to a chloroplast-targeting signal is unfolded on the chloroplast surface prior to import across the envelope membranes” J Biol Chem 271, 4082-4085


    Laidler V, Chaddock AM, Knott TG, Walker D & Robinson C. (1995), “A SecY homolog in Arabidopsis thaliana. Sequence of a full-length cDNA clone and import of the precursor protein into chloroplasts” J Biol Chem 270, 17664-17667


    Walker DS, Reeves PJ, Salmond GPC (1994), “The major secreted cellulase, CelV, of Erwinia carotovora subsp. carotovora is an important soft rot virulence factor” Molecular Plant Microbe Interactions 7, 425-431


    Reeves PJ, Whitcombe D, Wharam S, Gibson M, Allison G, Bunce N, Barallon R, Douglas P, Mulholland V, Stevens S, Walker D, Salmond GPC (1993), “Molecular cloning and characterization of 13 out genes from Erwinia carotovora subspecies carotovora: genes encoding members of a general secretion pathway (GSP) widespread in Gram-negative bacteria” Mol Microbiol 8 (3), 443-456