Molecular and Functional Aspects of Ion Channels, Receptors, and Transporters
Our work on selective silencing of mammalian neurons has generated a promising set of techniques and reagents based on ligand-activated chloride channels.
We continue to study the biophysics of ion channels that respond to the neurotransmitters acetylcholine, serotonin, GABA, glycine, and (among invertebrates) glutamate. These are termed "Cys-loop receptors” and have done detailed studies utilizing unnatural amino-acid mutagenesis and the cation-pi interaction that helps agonists bind to several cys-loop receptors. At the most fundamental level, with Professor Dennis Dougherty's group in Caltech's Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and Professor Sarah Lummis of Cambridge University, we apply new types of chemistry to understand how Cys-loop receptors transduce the binding of agonists into the opening of the channels.