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.
Major target molecules are Two Pore Na+ channel (TPC), G protein coupled inward rectifier K+ channel (GIRK), hERG K+ channel, P2X2 ATP receptor channel、Sigma-1 receptor and various G protein coupled receptors including orphan receptor Prrt3. We also work on TRPA1 channels, Kv1.2 channel, Two pore K+ channel and Melanopsin as well as ion channel toxins 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 by the two electrode voltage clamp method. Another is that we perform simultaneous recordings of electro- physiology and opto- physiology 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.
Fig. 1. Analyses of the function and dynamic structural rearrangements the KCNQ1/ KCNE1 K+ channel complex by simultaneous recordings of electro-physiology and opto-physiology under voltage clamp using Xenopus oocyte expression system. (Nakajo and Kubo, Nature Commun (2014)
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