Astrocyte potassium and gap junction channels and their involvement in stroke pathology.
A current research project studies the expression and function of two-pore domain K+ channels (K2Ps) in astrocytes. K2Ps are newly appreciated potassium channels that can interact with and be substantially modulated by a variety of physiochemical stimuli. Following our recent observation of rat hippocampal astrocytes expressing K2P isoforms of TWIK-1 and TREK-1, the continuing research examines the unique features of K2Ps enabling astrocytes to maintain brain homeostatic function and subserve neuronal function with high efficiency. The ongoing projects address 1) the biophysical features of K2Ps of astrocytes in brain slices as well as expression system; 2) crosstalk of astrocyte K2Ps with neurotransmitters and its impact on astrocyte homeostatic function, and 3) interaction of K2Ps and gap junction channels that in turn regulates the communication of astrocytes in their network.
We are also interested in the role of astrocyte K2Ps in stroke pathology. We study the K2Ps mediated mechanisms that protect astrocytes surviving through the early cerebral ischemic attack, the role of K2Ps in the process of induction of reactive astrocytes in stroke brain, and the potential role of altered K2Ps in reactive astrocyte in the post-stroke recovery of neuronal function.
Astrocyte is the most populous cell type in the brain. The goal of our research aims at unveiling the mysterious function of astrocytes and identifying glia-oriented therapeutic strategy for stroke treatment.
Our lab uses a variety of techniques to study the morphology and functional properties of astrocytes and other glial subtypes, such as NG2 glia, in the brain. Current projects include the use of the following preparations and techniques: acute brain slices, acute isolation of brain cells, confocal microscopy, Leica deconvoluion microscopy, ion sensitive dye imaging, immunocytochemisty, RT-PCR, Western blots, single and dual patch clamp analysis. Our lab also uses gene knockout mice to understand the functional role of K2Ps in astrocytes.