Research Interests:

 

Ion transport, the vectorial movement of ions across cell membranes, is a fundamental process that is essential to normal physiology and is perturbed in a variety of disease processes. In the kidney, epithelial ion transport regulates the concentration of ions, such as sodium and potassium, and determines extracellular volume and blood pressure. Kidney dysfunction can lead to perturbations in these regulatory processes, resulting in electrolyte disturbances, hypotension, or hypertension.

My laboratory is interested in using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism to study ion transport processes relevant to human physiology. Drosophila has a short life cycle, sophisticated genetics, and in many cases single gene representation of mammalian multi-gene families, simplifying analysis of pathways of interest. Our goal is to use to the fly to study ion transporters and channels that are conserved in humans, as well as the molecular mechanisms of regulation of these transporters and channels. One area of focus is the SLC12 family of cation-chloride transporters, such as the potassium- chloride cotransporter and the sodium-potassium-2 chloride cotransporter, and their regulation by WNK and SPAK/OSR1 kinases, which have been implicated in hypertensive disorders in humans. We are also studying potassium and chloride channels, which have also been implicated in several human disorders. We study these pathways in the fly renal (Malpighian) tubule and hindgut, in which epithelial ion transport is required for ionic and osmotic homeostasis. Our goal is to understand these transporters, channels and their regulation in greater mechanistic detail, identify new regulatory factors, and translate these insights into improved understanding of ion transport processes in health and disease.

Funding Sources