Dept.: Professor, Department of Biology
Neuroscience Focus Groups:
Research: Voltage-gated ion channels underlie the rapid electrical signaling for which nerve and muscle are known, yet these types of channels appear at very early stages of development, before synaptic connections are made, before muscle becomes contractile, and in general before electrical signaling serves any behavioral function in the organism. The types and properties of the channels early in development are often markedly different than those found in mature cells. These two facts have lead to the idea that electrical activity serves a developmental function in embryonic, distinct from its physiological function in mature cells. We are investigating this general hypothesis in a variety of developing cells, using patch clamp techniques to map the development of ion channels, and molecular techniques to perturb that development. We do such experiments in ascidian muscle, amphibian muscle, and mammalian central neurons.