Richard W. Aldrich
Our work is directed towards understanding the molecular and biophysical mechanisms of the function of ion channels. Ion channels are the elementary excitable elements in the cell membranes of nerve, muscle, and many other cells where they produce and transduce electrical signals. Electrical signaling is generated and modulated as different types of channels open and close in response to neurotransmitters, hormones, membrane potential, mechanical forces and other agents. We are interested in the mechanisms by which these agents control the conformational changes that open and close the ion channel molecule. Our work is centered around biophysical analysis of the behavior of individual channel molecules, using single-channel and macroscopic patch clamp techniques. We use recombinate DNA techniques to manipulate channel protein structure and determine the functional alterations resulting from the structural modifications.