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Search Results to Ann R Rittenhouse PhD

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Calcium Channels and Neuronal Plasticity

Profile in the process of being updated (4/12/17)

My laboratory is interested in understanding the role that voltage-gated Ca2+ channel (VGCC) subunits play in the body. In neurons, influx of Ca2+ through these channels serves the critical function of interfacing electrical signals with biochemical and transcriptional changes. Variability in their level of expression, cell-surface location and activity has profound effects on how much and where Ca2+ enters a nerve cell. This in turn influences neurotransmitter release, the strength of synaptic contacts as well as cellular and transcriptional processes, which ultimately affect learning and behavior. At the cellular level, my lab has focused on understanding how neuro­trans­mitters, small lipid molecules, and cytoplasmic proteins modulate postsynaptic neuronal VGCC activity and VGCC activity in pancreatic b-cells. These basic questions about VGCC function overlap with our interest in understanding the cellular basis of schizophrenia. Explore the lab webpage to learn more about the lab’s research interests. 

Four potential levels of plasticity for neuronal calcium channels are being examined in this lab: Using whole cell and single channel patch clamp recording techniques we are asking1) what are the underlying causes of the different endogenous patterns of activity observed in single channel currents and 2)how does channel behavior change when it is modulated by neurotransmitters and other cellular signals? Using molecular techniques, including Northern blot analysis and RNase protection assays we are trying to determine 3) what regulates the level of expression of the four protein subunits that make up different calcium channels and 4) do calcium channels switch subunits?

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