Molecular Mechanisms of Ion Channel Function in Health and Heart Disease
HERG is a potassium channel important for cardiac repolarization. Mutations in HERG and drugs can impair HERG function and cause arrhythmias and sudden death. Our research addresses the cellular and molecular mechanisms of cardiac arrhythmias by studying a variety of ion channels with a focus on HERG.
Current projects include:
1. The structural basis of K+ channel activity
The project focuses on understanding which parts of the channel protein are involved in the channel's opening and closing. We are also interested in other components that interact with the channel to control its function. These components include K+ channel beta subunits (minK - related peptides), protein kinases, and ions (e.g. K+) which permeate through the channels.
2. Mechanisms of drug-HERG channel interaction
Many drugs can block HERG channels and potentially lead to lethal cardiac arrhythmias, which represent a major concern in cardiovascular drug safety. We are interested in the mechanisms of drug-HERG channel interactions. Such knowledge is useful for the prevention and treatment of cardiac arrhythmias.
3. The role of potassium channels in cell physiology
The project concerns the role of potassium channels in the overall electrical activities of cardiac cells by manipulating K+ channel expression levels in primary culture of cardiac myocytes and in animal models. The project aims to provide fundamental insights into the pathogenesis of cardiac arrhythmias and to explore innovative anti-arrhythmic therapies.