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Division of Biophysics and Neurobiology



Functioning mechanisms and dynamic structure- function relationship of ion channels, receptors and G proteins

 Ion channels, receptors and G proteins play critical roles for the excitability and its regulation of neurons. We focus on these molecules which enable brain function. From the biophysical point of view, we study structure-function relationships, regulation mechanisms and dynamic structural rearrangements of ion channels and receptors. We also study the functional significance of specific features of ion channels and receptors in the brain function by making gene manipulated mice and by studying their abnormalities in the synaptic transmission and whole animal behavior. Specific themes of research projects currently running are as follows.

 Major target molecules are KCNQ1/ KCNE1 K+ channel complex, Kv4.2/ KChIP4/ DPP10 K+ channel complex, hERG K+ channel, P2X2 ATP receptor channel and various G protein coupled receptors including orphan receptor Prrt3. We also work on TRPA1 channels, AMPA receptor channels and Melanopsins as cooperative research projects.

 One of the characteristic features of our experimental approaches is that we utilize heterologous expression systems such as Xenopus oocytes which enable high through-put recordings and precise biophysical analyses.  Another is that we perform simultaneous recordings of electrophysiology and optophysiology to approach the dynamic aspects of the function and structural rearrangements, which is beneficial towards the understanding of the functioning images. Taking advantages of these facilities and methodologies, we would like to promote our research as well as cooperative research projects further.


Analyses of the function and dynamic structural rearrangements the KCNQ1/ KCNE1 K+ channel cpmplex by simultaneous recordings of electrophysiology and optophysiology under voltage clamp using Xenopus oocyte expression systems(. Nakajo and Kubo, Nature Commun( 2014))

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