Washington University in St. Louis

Current Knowledge and a Vision for Future Directions

Laboratory Emphasis

Blumer Lab | Djuranovic Lab | Hanson Lab
Huettner Lab | Klyachko Lab | Mecham Lab 
Mueckler Lab | Nichols LabPiston Lab
Schlesinger Lab | Stewart Lab | True Lab 
You Lab 
| Yuan Lab |

 

Blumer Lab

The Blumer lab studies how cells and organs in the body communicate with one another to carry out physiological processes.  Knowledge gained by our studies reveals how disease is caused when communication networks operate improperly, and how disease can be treated by increasing, decreasing, bypassing or re-routing these networks to correct or improve cell and organ function.  Our ongoing research focuses on cell communication in cardiovascular and neurological diseases, as well as in cancer. 


Djuranovic Lab

Dr. Djuranovic`s research examines the cellular processes that are regulated by changes in RNA metabolism.  The primary focus of his research is the molecular mechanism of miRNA-mediated translational control of gene expression.

Our lab addresses fundamental questions about how cells regulate the structure and organization of their internal membranes, in order to illuminate the pathophysiology of the cellular mechanisms involved in receptor downregulation, lipid homeostasis, and the release of many enveloped viruses from the cell.


Huettner Lab

Our lab uses electrophysiology to study native and recombinant mammalian glutamate receptors, in order to elucidate their interactions with components of the lipid bilayer, and their pharmacology and role in synaptic transmission.


Klyachko Lab

Fragile X syndrome, which is attributed to loss of Fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), represents the most common inherited form of mental retardation and the leading genetic cause of autism, yet the mechanisms underlying the cognitive impairments in Fragile X syndrome remain poorly understood. My research seeks to investigate novel functions of FMRP leading to dysregulation in short-term plasticity, which is widely believed to play important roles in the brain’s ability to analyze information.


Mecham Lab

The protein elastin is responsible for the elastic properties of the lung and the blood vessels. Several genetic diseases (Marfan Syndrome, Williams Syndrome and supravalvular aortic stenosis) and acquired diseases (hypertension, atherosclerosis etc.) are linked to alterations/mutations in genes for elastic fiber proteins.  Our research focuses on learning how elastin influences lung and blood vessel function and how mutations in elastin lead to disease. 


Mueckler Lab

Research in my laboratory is concerned with understanding the regulation of glucose metabolism and its derangement in various disease states, most notably non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). Our work is especially focused on glucose transport, insulin signaling, and insulin action.


Nichols Lab

Colin's research in the molecular basis of KATP channel activity led to the discovery of the mechanism of human neonatal diabetes.  This has revolutionized therapy – the affected children can now take once a day pills – even dissolved in milk – rather than traumatic, three times a day insulin injections.


Piston Lab

Studies of the Molecular Pathways of Islet Hormone Secretion


Schlesinger Lab

We study intracellular channels and the pore formation, activation, and in-membrane dynamics of BCl-2 family proteins, the critical arbiters of cell death in humans, using planar lipid bilayer methods, kinetic analyses, and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy. 


Stewart Lab

Dr. Sheila Stewart’s research focuses on understanding how age-related changes in noncancerous cells (referred to as stroma) participate in cancer development.  While it is clear that mutations in an incipient tumor cell are important for cancer development, it has become evident that changes in the surrounding stroma are also critical to the process.  Indeed, old stromal cells can promote tumor cell growth. Dr. Stewart’s group is delving further into how old cells can promote cancer with the intent of identifying possible therapeutic targets.  

In a second area, Dr. Stewart’s group is focused on understanding how proteins that participate in copying a cell’s DNA ensure that the very end of each chromosome (referred to as a telomere) is copied.  This is important because mistakes and losses of telomeres during replication can contribute to mutations that can lead to cancer.


True Lab

The ability of a cell to stay alive and function normally depends on the concerted effort of many proteins.  Proteins need to be properly folded in a particular three dimensional structure for full functionality and this folding process requires helper molecules called chaperones.  My research investigates how the process of protein misfolding occurs, how it propagates, and how these problems can be corrected in the cell.


You Lab

The function and fate of the cell—the basic structural and functional unit of our body—are controlled by its DNA. However, the DNA in each cell is damaged over 10,000 times every day by both environmental and intracellular causes. In order to preserve the DNA structure, cells have developed an intricate system for detecting and repairing DNA damage. Failure to do so would cause mutations, which over time can cause cancer. Indeed, individuals with inherited defects in their DNA repair capability are at higher risk of cancer. Our laboratory focuses on investigating fundamental aspects of the DNA damage detection and repair processes in cells using a variety of experimental systems and techniques, with the goal of improving the understanding and treatment of cancer.  


Yuan Lab

Our laboratory is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms of ion channels and transporters that 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.  Our 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.

 

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