Our research lab focuses on studying the molecular mechanisms of ion channels and transporters. We use a combination of biophysical methods to probe membrane protein structure and dynamics, together with functional assays and electrophysiological analysis. Ongoing projects in our lab include:

  • Examining the molecular mechanisms of the bacterial Cl/H+ antiporter, CLC-ec1
  • Developing new small-molecule probes to studying mammalian CLC chloride channels
  • Exploring the biophysics and physiology of the mammalian CLC chloride channels
  • Using electrophysiology techniques to study the molecular effects of ultrasound neuromodulation on ion channels in brain tissue
  • Exploring the molecular mechanisms of mitochondrial uncoupling proteins (UCPs)

Much of our work focuses on a class of proteins known as the CLC family of chloride-transport proteins.  In humans, there are nine CLC proteins which are ubiquitously expressed and necessary for proper cardiovascular, muscular, neuronal, and epithelial function.  From a mechanistic standpoint, the CLC family is unique in containing both ion channels and active transporters.  The existence of both types of transport proteins within one gene family challenges the existing paradigm and long-held assumption that they must operate by radically different mechanisms and suggests instead that their mechanisms may be subtle variations on a single central theme.  By studying ion-transport mechanisms in both types of CLC proteins, we aim to discover how these proteins have evolved to carry out these ostensibly different functions; this work promises not only to clarify our understanding of the CLCs but also to yield new insight into the elemental distinctions and similarities between channels and active transporters.