Faculty & Staff

Head Shot

Chris Shelley

Assistant Professor of Biology
B.Sc. (Hons), Biochemistry with a Year in Industry, Imperial College London. Ph.D. Pharmacology, University College London. Postdoctoral Research at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, University College London, and University of Maryland School of Medicine.



I am broadly interested in the molecular basis of behavior, and I have spent much of my career uncovering details of the mechanisms of activation of ion channels. Ion channels are proteins that span cell membranes and contain a central pore that when open, allows the passage of charged ions either into or out of the cell. The movement of these ions generates a current, which in turn can alter the membrane potential (voltage) of the cell, and these voltage changes are the basis of electrical signaling in the nervous system. The opening and closing of many different ion channels can be driven by the binding of neurotransmitters to the ion channel, or by changes in membrane voltage. My ion channel work to date has involved nicotinic acetylcholine receptors involved in signaling skeletal muscle contraction, calcium-activated potassium channels involved in smooth muscle contraction and setting circadian rhythms, and glutamate receptors involved in excitatory signaling in the brain and learning and memory.

More recently I have begun to utilize sea urchins as an experimental organism. My lab has established sea urchin phototaxis and movement assays, protocols for the in vivo application of pharmacological agents, and cell isolation and recording protocols, with the aim of elucidating the electrical and biochemical steps that underlie sea urchin behavioral responses to light.


Publications (Undergraduate authors underlined)

Shah M, Marconi LJ, Kirkman L, Sitver P, Shelley C. (2018). Pharmacological disruption of sea urchin tube foot motility and behavior. Biological Bulletin, 234, 96-105.

Aleman MG, Marconi LJ, Nguyen NH, Park JM, Patino MM, Wang Y, Watkins CS, Shelley C. (2016). The influence of assay design, blinding, and Gymnema sylvestre on sucrose detection by humans. Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education, 15, A18-A23.

Shelley C. (2015). Single-channel recording of glutamate receptors. Current Protocols in Pharmacology, 68, 11.16.1-19.

Shelley C. (2015). Single-channel analysis of glutamate receptors. Current Protocols in Pharmacology, 68, 11.17.1-23.

Shelley C, Whitt JP, Montgomery JR, Meredith AL. (2013). Phosphorylation of a constitutive serine inhibits BK channel variants containing the alternate exon ‘SRKR’. Journal of General Physiology, 142, 585-598.

Shelley C, Farrant M, Cull-Candy SG. (2012). TARP-associated AMPA receptors display an increased maximum channel conductance and multiple kinetically distinct open states. Journal of Physiology, 590, 5723-5738. Also selected to be published in the Journal of Physiology Biophysics and Discovery Virtual Issue (January 2013).

Coombs ID, Soto D, Zonouzi M, Renzi M, Shelley C, Farrant M, Cull-Candy SG. (2012). Cornichons modify channel properties of recombinant and glial AMPA receptors. Journal of Neuroscience, 32, 9796-804.

Shelley C, Cull-Candy SG. (2010). Desensitization and models of receptor-channel activation. Journal of Physiology, 588, 1395-7. Classical Perspective.

Shelley C, Niu X, Geng YY, Magleby KL. (2010). Coupling and cooperativity in voltage activation of a limited state BK channel gating in saturating Ca2+. Journal of General Physiology, 135, 461-80.

Shelley C, Magleby KL. (2008). Linking exponential components to kinetic states in Markov models for single-channel gating. Journal of General Physiology, 132, 295-312.

Shelley C, Colquhoun D. (2005). A human congenital myasthenia-causing mutation (εL78P) of the muscle nicotinic acetylcholine receptor with unusual single channel properties. Journal of Physiology, 564, 377-96.

Beeson D, Webster R, Ealing J, Croxen R, Brownlow S, Brydson M, Newsom-Davis J, Slater C, Hatton C, Shelley C, Colquhoun D, Vincent A. (2003). Structural abnormalities of the AChR caused by mutations underlying congenital myasthenic syndromes. Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 998, 114-24.

Hatton C, Shelley C, Brydson M, Beeson D, Colquhoun D. (2003). Properties of the human muscle nicotinic receptor, and of the slow channel myasthenic mutant εL221F, inferred from maximum likelihood fits. Journal of Physiology, 547, 729-60.

Croxen R, Hatton C, Shelley C, Brydson M, Chauplannaz G, Oosterhuis H, Vincent A, Newsom-Davis J, Colquhoun D, Beeson D. (2002). Recessive inheritance and variable penetrance of slow-channel congenital myasthenic syndromes. Neurology, 59, 162-8.

Amour A, Slocombe PM, Webster A, Butler M, Knight CG, Smith BJ, Stephens PE, Shelley C, Hutton M, Knauper V, Docherty AJ, Murphy G. (1998). TNF-alpha converting enzyme (TACE) is inhibited by TIMP-3. FEBS Letters, 435, 39-44.