Analysis of a Newly-Identified Voltage-Activated Potassium Current in Drosophila
Satpal Singh Principal Investigator
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Potassium channels are cellular proteins that play a vital role in physiological functioning of the nerves, muscles and other cells. A previously unknown novel type of potassium channel (named IKF) has been identified. This project will study: (i) how this channel functions, (ii) what pharmacological agents interact with this channel to either inhibit or enhance its activity, and (iii) what intracellular signaling mechanisms are involved in modulating this channel. These channel properties will be studied using methods that measure electrical activity of the channel in a model system that is well suited to genetic manipulation. The electrical measurements will provide information about the functioning of the channel. Effects of pharmacological agents will be studied by measuring the function of the channel after applying various drugs and toxins. Similarly, the use of drugs and genetic perturbations that effect the functioning of the channel will provide information on pathways that modulate the channel.<br/><br/>The recent genomic revolution has led to the discovery of a large number of genes that code for potassium channels. In contrast, relatively few channels, including the IKF channel, have been identified at the physiological level. This project will help understand the physiological role of the IKF channel and will subsequently allow the establishment of a link between the channel and the gene that codes for it. The study will provide a fundamental framework for understanding the role of IKF and related channels in normal cellular physiology. Furthermore, this work will contribute to the infrastructure of science by providing training to undergraduate and graduate students pursing careers in the biological and the pharmacological sciences.