The D'Avanzo Laboratory
In the D'Avanzo lab we are studying the molecular mechanisms that govern the function of ion channels. Ion channels are modular membrane proteins with a central ion conducting domain that is regulated by peripheral domains sensitive to external stimuli such as membrane potential or ligands. These proteins provide an electrical or chemical signal to transmit information from one side of a cell membrane to another. These signals enable a heart to beat rhythmically, or neurons to transmit information. They also allow for hormones to be released from specialized cells. Therefore, if the propert function of ion channels are disrupted, diseases such as cardiac arrhythmias, epilepsy, diabetes, or even sudden death can result. Using a variety of techniques including electrophysiology to measure electrical currents, protein biochemistry to purify eukaryotic channels, x-ray diffraction to examine molecular structures, and molecular dynamics simulations to computationally examine molecular movements, we are studying the structure and function of our various ion channels, and examining how their functions are regulate by the lipids in which they are embedded. We are also examining what is the effect on channel function of mutations that have been genetically linked to disease. Please read more here.