We want to understand how cellular physiology is controled by basic molecular and cellular pathways regulating the biology of potassium-selective ion channels.
C. eleganscellular excitabilitypotassium channelsgeneticsmolecular & cellular neurobiologyCRISPR/Cas9 genome engineering
Two-pore domain potassium channels (K2P) play a central role in the control of cellular excitability and the regulation of the cell’s electrical membrane potential. K2Ps have been widely conserved throughout evolution. They are polymodal ion channels that are subjected to extensive regulation by a diverse set of physical (pH, temperature, mechanical force) and biological signals (lipids, G-protein coupled receptor pathways). They are broadly expressed in excitable and non-excitable cells, and have in turn been implicated in a large spectrum of physiopathological processes, ranging from the regulation of neuronal excitability, respiratory and cardiac function to the control of cell volume, hormone secretion and cell proliferation. Recently, loss- and gain-of-function mutations in K2P channels have been directly linked to human pathologies (Birk Barel syndrome, familial migraine with aura, cardiac conduction disorder).
In contrast to many other ion channel families, comparatively little is known about the molecular and cellular processes that regulate different aspects of the cell biology of K2P channels. For instance we know only of very few factors that specifically regulate the expression, the activity and the localisation of K2P channels at the cell surface. Therefore the central question addressed by our team is: How is the number of active potassium leak channels present at the cell surface controlled in vivo?
To identify novel genes and conserved cellular processes that regulate the biology of K2P channels in vivo we take advantage of the powerful genetic tools available in the model nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. We use the full array of techniques available in C. elegans including genetics, live imaging, electrophysiology and state-of-the-art CRISPR/Cas9 genome engineering and next-generation DNA sequencing. These studies will provide new leads to understand the cellular pathways that control K2P function in other organisms.
ANR NBElegAns 2020-2024
Neurobeachin is a brain-specific protein required for vesicular trafficking, synaptic structure, and synaptic targeting of neurotransmitter receptors. Neurobeachin mutations have very recently been identified as a genetic cause of autism, neurodevelopmental delay and early generalized epilepsy (Mulhern et al., 2018). During a genetic screen in C. elegans, we have discovered that Neurobeachin can also regulate potassium channel trafficking. Interestingly, these channels play a central role in controlling neuronal excitability. In this project, we propose to combine clinical and fundamental research approaches to better understand the pathophysiology of this new neurological disease, identify cellular processes regulated by Neurobeachin, and find new molecular partners that could serve as potential therapeutic targets in the future.
This project will be a collaborative venture between our team, Tristan T. Sands and Natalie Lippa (Columbia University, New York), Sarah Weckhuysen (VIB & University of Antwerp), Qiang Liu (Bargmann Lab, Rockefeller University, New York), and Maëlle Jospin (Bessereau Lab, Institut NeuroMyoGène, Lyon).
If you are interested in joining the project as a Post-doctoral fellow, Masters, or PhD Student, don’t hesitate to contact us!
We are always looking for highly motivated Post-docs, Masters and PhD students to participate in our ERC Starting Grant-funded projects.
Please consult this page
Directions and further information can be found on our team web site: www.excitingworms.eu.
21st International C. elegans conference.
Posters, check! Talk, check! 30 wrmScarlet vectors gone in 3 min, check! 70+ requests to be sent out in the coming days, pending…
And to top it off, Sonia wins the Dr. Matthew J. Buechner Tie Award for service to the community!