NYC Healthcare News



New research focuses on calcium channels in lysosome membrane

October 16, 2015

The protein TRPML1 also is of interest because of the unusual way it does its work.

"While other channel proteins are in the 'passenger' seats of the membrane traffic, TRPML1 is in the 'driver' seat," said Xu, an assistant professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology. This suggests that manipulating TRPML1 channel activity using channel activators or inhibitors could affect membrane traffic.

"If you can activate the channel, it might be possible to overcome the membrane traffic defects caused by the disease-causing mutations. Luckily, small-molecule chemicals that can stimulate TRPML1 channel activity are already available, " Xu said.

He and collaborator Miriam Meisler, a human genetics professor at the U-M Medical School, have experiments underway to see if they can prevent or reverse the course of disease in a mouse model of ALS by increasing activity of the TRPML1 channel.

If the strategy is successful, Xu hopes to explore its use in treating other neurological diseases.

"If the system we're studying turns out to be compromised in more common diseases, the method of increasing channel activity could have important implications for their treatment," he said.

Source: University of Michigan