González Ros, José Manuel
Institution: Universitas Miguel Hernandez
Center: Molecular and Cell Biology Institute
Address: Av. de la Universidad.
Edif. Torregaitán. E-03202.
Elche. Alicante. Spain
Phone: + 34 96-665 8757
Fax: + 34 96 665 8758
Membrane proteins are considered very important components of all living organisms because they mediate a myriad of key biological procesess, but also because they are actual or potential drug targets. Potassium channels are a good example of such physiologically and pharmacologically-relevant membrane proteins. Indeed, the highly diverse family of potassium channels are widely distributed in all living organisms, from excitable and non-excitable animal or plant cells, to bacteria or Archaea, where they play critical roles in a variety of physiological processes, including the regulation of heart rate, muscle contraction, neurotransmitter release, neuronal excitability, insulin secretion, epithelial electrolyte transport, cell volume regulation, cell proliferation and others. Also, there is no question to date that K+ channels are involved in diseases as important as cardiac disease and arritmia, epilepsia, diabetes, hypertension, neurodegeneration and probably many others. Thus, it is not surprising that defects or lack of an adequate control in the normal functioning of these channels, have profound physiological or physiopathological consequences.
As basic scientists, we believe in the idea that by further understanding K+ channels structure and function we will not only learn new, badly needed lessons on the biology of these important membrane proteins, but also facilitate their therapeutic exploitation. According to such expectations, this proposal has the primary objective of investigating further the mechanisms of modulation of K+ channels, particularly those having to do with pioneering reports from our group, such as the recently described clustering and folding of channel proteins, or their interaction with membrane lipids and ions. As a secondary objective, we will attempt to apply the findings from above to develop new approaches for drug discovery, both in terms of identifying potentially usefull, new therapeutic targets and by dessigning “structure-based” drug candidates.