Shetuan Zhang, Ph.D

Shetuan Zhang

Faculty Bio

Ion channel function and cardiac arrhythmias Electrical signals generated by ion channels control many biological processes including rhythmic heartbeat. We are studying cardiac ion channel functions and their roles in cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. We currently focus on voltage-gated potassium channels encoded by the human Ether-a-go-go-Related Gene (hERG). Mutations in hERG and certain common medications can impair hERG function and cause Long QT Syndrome (LQTS), a cardiac electrical disorder associated with life-threatening arrhythmias and sudden death. We employ molecular biology and electrophysiology techniques in cell lines and animal models to study hERG expression and function under physiological and pathophysiological conditions. Our work has revealed that extracellular potassium is required for the function and expression of hERG channels, and a reduction of serum potassium concentration, clinically known as hypokalemia, can cause LQTS through reducing hERG expression. Current projects include drug-hERG interactions, molecular pathways regulating hERG expression levels, and mechanisms through which LQTS-causing mutations decrease hERG activity.

Last Modified: 2016-07-04