Professor of Pharmacology
Calcium entry via voltage-gated calcium channels is a key event in neuronal firing, muscle contraction, gene expression, and secretion of neurotransmitters and hormones. Importantly, voltage-gated calcium channels are the site of action of a number of clinically relevant drugs, termed "calcium channel blockers."
The major contribution of the Perez-Reyes laboratory has been on the molecular physiology and pharmacology of voltage-gated calcium channels, and in particular, the cloning of low voltage-activated T-type calcium channels. Their cloning opened many doors on their biophysics, localization, role in neuronal excitability, and pharmacology. This work combined a wide array of techniques such as molecular cloning, electrophysiological recordings of whole cell and single channel currents, and confocal microscopy. For review see: “Molecular physiology of low-voltage-activated T-type calcium channels” Physiol. Rev. 83:117-161, 2003, PMID: 12506128. Our T-channel studies continue to focus on how mutations in Cav3.2 alter its function leading to diseases such as epilepsy. Our most current study on the mechanisms by which Cav3.2 mutations found in childhood absence epilepsy patients lead to hyperexcitability (J. Physiol. PMID: 24277868).
Current work in the lab is focused on developing gene therapies for pharmacoresistant epilepsies. In these projects we are leveraging our experience in molecular cloning to develop novel adeno-associated viral (AAV) targeting vectors capable of delivering either short-hairpinned RNAs (shRNAs) or genes of interest. Figure below shows drug-inducible delivery of two genes from a single adeno-associated virus in the brain (GFP and mCherry). In a project funded by a CURE Challenge Award, we validated the ability of a modified K+ leak channel to reduce status epilepticus (Epilepsia: PMID: 24299204). In a second project recently funded by NINDS, we are testing the ability of an shRNA directed against the sodium channel subunits to reduce seizures. Both projects are made possible by collaborations with local epilepsy experts, including John Williamson, Manoj Patel, Edward Bertram, Mark Beenhakker, and Jaideep Kapur.
We find these new translational neuroscience projects very exciting and hope they will have a major impact on patient care.
Current lab members:
Iuliia Vitko, Instructor
Deborah L. Perez-Reyes, Lab Specialist
Kathyrn Brodie, UVa Undergraduate Student
Ji Won Kim, UVa Undergraduate Student
Cassidy Burke, UVa Undergraduate Student
Christina Galiano, UVa Undergraduate Student
Former lab members who left in the last few years:
Kyle Sullivan, UVa Undergraduate Student, now seeking Ph.D. at the Ohio State University
Deblina Dey, former Ph.D. student, now post-doc at U.C.-Irvine.
Amol Bhandare, former Research Assistant, now seeking Ph.D. degree at the Australian School of Advanced Medicine, Macquarie University, Australia
Everardo Hernandez-Plata, Visiting Ph.D. student from UNAM, now post-doc at the Imperial College of London.
Veit Simon-Eckle, former post-doc now Assistant Professor at the University of Tubingen
Alex Shcheglovitov, former Post-doc, now an Assistant Professor at the University of Utah.
For a complete list of scientific contributions see my profile on Google Scholar: perez-reyes e
Last updated November 15, 2013
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