Ion channels of the plasma membrane play a central role in many physiological processes, including action potential firing, neurotransmitter and peptide hormone release, and muscle contraction. Many of these ion channels interact with local phospholipids, called phosphoinositides. Thus, essential membrane lipid-protein interactions help shape cellular excitability. There is growing evidence that ion channels in endomembranes also need specific phosphoinositides for full function.
Research in our laboratory takes a multi-disciplinary approach to investigate:
1). the electrical and molecular properties of phosphoinositide-dependent ion channels of organelle membranes and the role they have in shaping specific organelle function,
2). the source, roles, and regulatory mechanisms of inter-organelle phosphoinositide signaling networks, and
3). determine key signaling lipids that may be altered during pathophysiological conditions. The ultimate goal of this work is to enhance our understanding of the biophysical and molecular properties of intracellular membranes in health and disease.