When examined at the subcellular level, ion channels display an impressive precision in their localization. Yet, highly related ion channels localize to different subcellular compartments. And still, ion channel localization is dynamic and can change dramatically in response to different physiological conditions.
The precision, the diversity and the dynamics of ion channel localization are all critical parameters for proper regulation of essential processes such as neuronal signaling and transepithelial transport.
In the Membrane Trafficking Lab, we study the molecular and cellular machinery responsible for the mosaic distribution of ion channels in polarized cells and how the molecular and cellular machinery is regulated. The goal is to understand how highly complex cells such as epithelial and neuronal cells solve the demanding task of having the right number of the right ion channels at the right spot at the right time.
We study these questions using epithelial cell lines and primary cultured hippocampal neurons as model systems. Technically, we are fond of various imaging methods with a current focus on dynamic, live-cell imaging studies, where we directly follow polarized transport and plasma membrane dynamics of fluorescently tagged ion channels in living epithelial and neuronal cells. In addition, we use a variety of molecular biological, biochemical and electrophysiological techniques.