Research — Cell Biology and Physiology

(M75 900)
Cross-listed with L41 (Bio) 590

Kendall J. Blumer, PhD
506 McDonnell Science Building
Signaling mechanisms in cardiovascular and neurological disorders.

Sergej Djuranovic, PhD
514 McDonnell Science Building
Molecular mechanisms of translational control. Research examines the cellular processes that are regulated by changes in RNA metabolism.

Phyllis I. Hanson, MD, PhD
4625 Cancer Research Building
Study of protein-protein and protein-membrane interactions involved in neuronal and synaptic membrane trafficking using biochemical, biophysical, and cell biological techniques.

James E. Huettner, PhD
6600 Cancer Research Building
Excitatory amino acid receptors and synaptic transmission in the central nervous system; neural differentiation of embryonic stem cells.

Vitaly Klyachko, PhD
9405 BJC Institute of Health
The mechanisms and regulation of neurotransmitter release at individual synapses; the functional roles of presynaptic processes in synaptic plasticity and information processing.

Robert P. Mecham, PhD
4606 Cancer Research Building
Understanding the complex process of extracellular matrix assembly and organization, including studying the intracellular pathways used to transport matrix components to the cell surface and identifying helper or accessory proteins that facilitate trafficking and matrix assembly. Cell-matrix interactions in development and cellular mechanisms associated with connective tissue remodeling in vascular disease and heritable diseases of connective tissues.

Michael M. Mueckler, PhD
416 McDonnell Science Building
Molecular biology of mammalian glucose transporters. Regulation of glucose transport by insulin and the mechanism of insulin signaling. Subcellular trafficking of the insulin-regulated glucose transporter. Structure and function relationships of glucose transporters. Mechanism of insertion of complex polytopic proteins into the rough endoplasmic reticulum membrane.

Colin G. Nichols, PhD
9405 BJC Institute of Health
Ion channel biology. Multiple levels of analysis from the molecular basis of channel function to in vivo physiology and disease

David W. Piston, PhD
4912 South Building
The intracellular and intercellular dynamics of cells within the islet of Langerhans play a key role in the regulation of blood glucose levels.  The islet is made up of different cell types, but very little is known about the interplay between the different cell types and how this affects their secretion of various hormones.  The islet â-cells secrete insulin in response to increased blood sugar, and also in response to neurotransmitters and hormones.  Glucagon also plays a key role in blood glucose homeostasis, and it is secreted by the islet a-cells.  High glucose levels inhibit glucagon secretion from a-cells within the islet, but not from dispersed a-cells, but the mechanism underlying this phenomenon has not been defined.  We use quantitative live cell microscopy to measure single cell parameters within intact islets held within microfluidic devices in order to expose them to spatially heterogeneous levels of various stimuli.  The resulting data are fit using mathematical models of islet functional dynamics, which we are continually modifying to better fit the observed islet physiology.

Paul H. Schlesinger, MD, PhD
401 McDonnell Science Building
Molecular mechanism of BCl-2 family protein function, intracellular channels, biophysics of lipids, proteins and their interaction in cells and nanotechnology.

Sheila A. Stewart, PhD
7610 BJC Institute of Health
Delineation of the molecular mechanisms by which aged stromal cells contribute to tumorigenesis and the molecular mechanisms that ensure high fidelity telomere replication and genomic stability.

Heather L. True-Krob, PhD
413 McDonnell Science Building
Biological consequences of yeast prions–in both their capacity to function as a novel epigenetic elements, and in their utility to serve as a tractable model for the analysis of protein misfolding and aggregation that occurs in several neurodegenerative disorders.

Zhongsheng You, PhD
514 McDonnell Science Building
Studies of the cellular responses to DNA damage and their cancer relevance, focusing on the functional interplays between the DNA damage checkpoint, DNA repair and chromatin structure.

Peng Yuan, PhD
9608 BJC Institute of Health
Structure and function of ion channels and transporters.  Ion channels and transporters play essential roles in human physiology and disease. How do channels and transporters recognize their specific substrate ions?  How do they respond to various stimuli including chemical ligand, temperature, membrane voltage, and mechanical force?  How do they interact with the lipid membrane where they reside? To answer these fundamental questions, we use multidisciplinary approaches including X-ray crystallography, biochemistry, biophysics, and electrophysiology.  Dysfunction of these membrane proteins could lead to a variety of diseases such as asthma, hypertension, cancer, heart failure, diabetes, chronic pain, and many more. The long-term goal is to provide detailed mechanistic understanding of ion channels and transporters, which will offer novel strategies for drug development and better treatment of diseases.