Mutational Analysis of Potassium Currents in Drosophila
Satpal Singh Principal Investigator
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Potassium channels are important for encoding electrical messages in the nervous system. The goal of this research project is to identify genetic mutations, alterations in the genetic code, that affect potassium currents in the fruit fly Drosophila. More than forty mutations have been identified on the basis of behavioral defects which enrich for mutations that disrupt the functioning of ion channels. These mutations will serve as the resource material for the project. Membrane currents recorded from the mutants will be compared with those from normal currents for physiological properties. Mutations that exhibit alterations in one or more of the four known potassium currents in Drosophila will be characterized genetically and studied to determine the specific potassium current affected and the nature of the effect. Because of strong similarities between ion channels from different species, information on Drosophila potassium channels will aid in studying potassium channels in other organisms, including humans. Analysis of potassium channels will help in the understanding of potassium channel function in several cellular processes including learning and memory, cardiac pacemaker activity, repetitive firing and mediation of therapeutic action drugs.