Cellular & Physiological Sciences
In our laboratory, we study primarily “pacemaker channels,” a special class of proteins found on the surface of cells of the sinoatrial node and conduction tissue of the heart, as well as in other cells in the brain and other places. In the heart, pacemaker channels are important for repetitive activity and their modulation, for example by adrenalin, contributes to alterations in heart rate and conduction of the impulse. Pacemaker channels are similar in structure to voltage-gated potassium channels and cyclic nucleotide-gated channels, but differ in several important ways. Our projects focus on the structure of pacemaker channels, on how their structure affects channel biogenesis and assembly, trafficking to different compartments within the cell, and ultimately channel function in a cellular context, and on the co-evolution of channel structure and function.