Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics
Iowa Neuroscience Institute
University of Iowa
Host: Jian Yang
Title: The Power of Small: Atomic Mutagenesis in a Post-Structural Era
Abstract: The Ahern laboratory has a long-standing interest in the pharmacology and function of the voltage-gated ion channels that support electrical signaling in muscle and nerve cells. My laboratory uses chemical biology, protein engineering and biophysics to quantify membrane protein function at high resolution. Our use of genetic code expansion and the design, synthesis and encoding of unnatural amino acids to rescue ion channel genes harboring nonsense (stop) codons, has yielded several interesting recent discoveries: atomic and subatomic details of the function of ion-channel voltage sensors; new protein-chemical interactions relevant for potassium channel gating; H-bond networks that act as molecular timers in potassium channels; and novel mechanisms of drug interactions with ion channels. Data will also be discussed related to role main-chain integrity to ion channel function.