Molecular and Cellular Physiology and Neurobiology.
Ion channels and ion-channel-coupled receptors are cell membrane proteins that sense physical and chemical signals and couple them with ionic flux through the cell membrane. Ion channel activity is essential for the function of almost all organs and organ systems, including the heart, the lung, the kidney, the muscular system, the nervous system, and the immune system. Consequently, the malfunction of ion channels is related to many human diseases, and ion channels have served as major drug targets.
The research in Yu lab is focusing on the molecular mechanisms of assembly, function and regulation of ion channels and membrane receptors. Currently we are interested in the transient receptor potential (TRP) channels, proteins which are essential for sensory physiology and have been shown to play crucial roles in human diseases. So far, TRP channels has been shown to be involved in the formation of sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste, temperature, and pain sensation. We use cultured mammalian cells, Xenopus oocytes and zebrafish as model systems, and study structure and function of ion channels and receptors with a combined molecular biology, biochemistry, biophysics, x-ray crystallography, and electrophysiology approach.
Research in Yu lab is funded by the National Institutes of Health.