The laboratory studies the physiology, regulation and biophysics of potassium (K+) channels.
For more than a decade the laboratory has been studying non-ionic functions of K+ channels. We focus on a multifunctional complex--formed by the voltage-gated K+ channel KCNB1 (Kv2.1) and integrins alpha-5 and beta-5--that we recently named integrin-KCNB1 complex or IKC. These complexes are sensors of membrane excitability that transduce the electrical activity at the membrane (via the channel) into intracellular signals (via integrins) that modulate fundamental properties of the cell, such as migration and survival. A distinctive trait of integrin-KCNB1 complexes is that they act as beneficial molecules early in life but become deleterious late in life through largely conserved mechanisms. Alzheimer's disease and Traumatic Brain Injury provide examples of the pleiotropic nature of integrin-KCNB1 complexes. As the brain undergoes neurodegeneration or trauma, these complexes turn toxic and cause neuronal inflammation and loss via the signaling machinery of integrins.
Current projects focus on elucidating the role of integrin-KCNB1 signaling in Alzheimer's disease and Traumatic Brain Injury. We are also assessing the potential therapeutic of second generation Bcr-Abl and Src tyrosine kinase inhibitors and BACE1 inhibitors for the treatment of those pathologies.
The laboratory is supported by the NIH and the NSF.