The Lau Lab uses a combination of computational and experimental approaches to study the atomic and molecular details governing the function of protein complexes involved in intercellular communication. We study ionotropic glutamate receptors (iGluRs), which are ligand-gated ion channels that mediate the majority of excitatory synaptic transmission in the central nervous system. iGluRs are important in synaptic plasticity, which underlies learning and memory. Receptor dysfunction has been implicated in a number of neurological disorders.
Work in the William B. Guggino Lab focuses on the structure of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) and water channels; the molecular structure of transport proteins in epithelial cell membranes; and gene therapies to treat cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. We are also working to identify CF’s specific defect in chloride channel regulation. One recent study showed that insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) enhances the protein expression of CFTR.
Ion channels are pore-forming membrane proteins gating the flow of ions across the cell membrane. Among their many functions, ion channels regulate cell volume, control epithelial fluid secretion, and generate the electrical impulses in our brain. The Qiu Lab employs a multi-disciplinary approach including high-throughput functional genomics, electrophysiology, biochemistry, and mouse genetics to discover novel ion channels and to elucidate their role in health and disease.