Wednesday March 10, 2010
- Molecular and Cellular NeuroscienceOur current research is focused on delineating the molecular mechanisms underlying the neurodegeneration that occurs in a variety of disorders such as cerebral ischemia and Alzheimer's Disease. Zinc is quite abundant in the brain. It is an essential trace element required as a co-factor for several metalloproteins (e.g., transcription factors, metalloenzymes), but may also have signaling functions too. Like most other things in life, too much zinc is not good for cell survival. High levels of zinc inside cells, kill them, so there are several cellular mechanisms for maintaining intracellular zinc concentrations within a narrow range. One important mechanism is zinc transporters, but very little is known about these proteins. Elevations of intracellular zinc may contribute to glutamate excitotoxicity (a mechanism of neuron death in stroke) and play a role in Alzheimer's disease pathology. We are using several different techniques to study zinc transport. These include direct measurement of the zinc transport function in primary cell culture and various imaging techniques using fluorescent dyes.