Ion channel kinetics and structure; Membrane Transport (Ion Transport); Molecular and Cellular Biology; Neurobiology; Pathophysiology; Gene Expression; Signal Transduction
Neuronal firing patterns are highly diverse because neurons regulate a wide variety of different behaviors and physiological functions including cognition and memory. Whether a neuron exhibits regular spiking, burst firing, adaptation or high frequency firing will largely be determined by which specific ion channel genes a neuron chooses to express. I am interested in a class of potassium channels that are sensitive to intracellular sodium. There are two members in this family, known as Slack and Slick, and both channel subunits are expressed in many different types of neurons. I am particularly interested in how these channels contribute to the firing patterns of pain-sensing neurons and neurons of the cerebral cortex. Understanding when, where and how these channels are working should provide important information on sensory and cortical processing and will provide insights on nociception, psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and neurological diseases such as epilepsy.
Neurodegenerative disorders; Apoptosis and cell death; Membrane Transport (Ion Transport); Proteins and metalloenzymes; Signal Transduction; Toxicology and Xenobiotics
Dr. Jerome Roth‘s research interests over the past several years have focused on the mechanism of action of manganese in producing neuronal cell death. Manganese is an essential mineral that at high concentration acts as a neurotoxin which produces a Parkinson-like syndrome. Although the identified brain lesions associated with manganism differ from those of Parkinson’s disease, there is increasing evidence that chronic exposure to Mn correlates with increased susceptibility to develop Parkinsonism. Current studies are focused on characterizing the signal transduction pathways stimulated by manganese and to determine whether they also play a role in the toxic actions of this divalent cation. As part of this project we are also investigating the transport mechanisms by which manganese is taken up into cells. We have focused our studies on the divalent metal transporter (DMT1) and its role in the transport of manganese and other divalent cations. We are currently studying the transcriptional and post-translational factors that regulate its expression in vivo. Preliminary studies have linked DMT1 expression to the protein, parkin, mutations in which lead to early onset of Parkinson‘s disease. Whether other gene linked to Parkinsonism are also associate with development of manganism is the current focus of my research. Current studies in my laboratory focus on how other early and late genes associated with Parkinson’s disease can influence Mn toxicity as these studies will provide a basis for the comorbidity between manganism and Parkinson’s; the manipulation of this mechanism may therefore provide new prophylactic and/or management treatment options for Parkinson’s disease.
Behavioral pharmacology; Cardiac pharmacology; Ion channel kinetics and structure; Membrane Transport (Ion Transport); Molecular Basis of Disease; Neurobiology; Neuropharmacology; Signal Transduction; Transgenic organisms
With over 400 genes coding for them in humans, ion channels play a significant role in most physiological functions. Drug-induced channel dysfunction often leads to a variety of disorders and results in significant incidence of serious injury and death. We investigate molecular mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative disorders and cardiac arrhythmias induced by ion channel dysfunction arising from genetic factors and/or drug interactions. The tools used for these investigations include genetic, electrophysiologic, pharmacologic, molecular and cell culturing methods. Preparations used for experiments include Drosophila as a genetic model system, and human cell lines expressing human ion channels that play an important role in critical-to-life functions including cardiac rhythm, respiration and the central nervous system.