Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Title: Membrane Dynamics Underlying Kv2.1 Cluster Formation
In this project, we study the regulation of Kv2.1 channel clusters that may play several important biological roles in the brain. Currently, the mechanism by which these clusters are regulated and maintained is unknown. The project focuses on the biophysics of Kv2.1 voltage-gated K+ channel cell surface dynamics with particular emphasis on cytoskeleton-membrane interactions in live cells. The overall goal of the research is to improve our understanding of the mechanism by which the cortical cytoskeleton functionally forms a diffusion limiting fence that selectively corrals a sub-population of Kv2.1 channels. The specific research aims are: (1) characterize the dynamics of clustered and non-clustered channels within various surface regions of cultured neurons, (2) measure the influence of the cortical cytoskeleton and raft microdomains on Kv2.1 channel dynamics, (3) build a microscope to implement high-speed particle tracking and optical tweezers, and (4) determine the mechanism that forms Kv2.1 clusters on the cell surface. This experimental work will lead to unique insights in the molecular mechanism of membrane protein dynamics. The project focuses on investigating Kv2.1 clustering regulation, dynamics and interactions with the cytoskeleton which may lead to improved treatments for acute ischemic stroke through enhanced neuro-protective approaches. The project is jointly sponsored by the Physics and the Molecular Cell Biology Divisions at NSF.