Our laboratory is interested in understanding the structural basis of ion channel function. Ion channels are integral membrane proteins that act as molecular switches of electrochemical signaling in the central nervous system. Our specific goal is to understand the structural determinants of ligand recognition, the mechanism of channel gating and ion selection and permeation. Our methodological approach is based on electrophysiological techniques to understand function, in combination with structural methods such as X-ray crystallography and cryo-EM to understand structure. At present we are pursuing structures for various classes of ligand-gated ion channels, including the family of pentameric ligand-gated ion channels or Cys-loop receptors, TRP channels and CNG/HCN channels. Combined, our approach opens new avenues for structure-based design of new drugs to better treat disorders associated with abnormal ion channel function.
The Laboratory of Structural Neurobiology is part of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine within the Faculty of Medicine.