We are interested in how activity and plasticity in the nervous system generates behaviour. We are particularly interested in the role of voltage-gated potassium (Kv) channels, CamKII and CASK in these processes.
We use Drosophila to study the role of these protein families as they display high functional conservation with mammals and flies are highly genetically and experimentally tractable. We use electrophysiology or dynamic cell imaging to record neural activity from highly defined behavioural circuits that are complex enough to generate a repertoire of behaviours known to involve channels and interacting molecules in humans.
We are currently studying the role of several Kv channels and calcium signalling molecules in synaptic plasticity, learning, circadian rhythms and alcohol response. We also use Drosophila to study molecular mechanisms of diseases involving Kv channels (channelopathies) and synaptic proteins (synaptopathies). To help model channelopathies in Drosophila we compare the electrophysiological and pharmacological properties of Drosophila Kv channels with their mammalian homologues.
We are also taking advantage of information from Genome Wide Association Studies for instance linking particular human Kv channel Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms with certain diseases. We hope to study the detailed mechanism of action of these molecular changes using our powerful in vivo model.
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