A major focus of our lab are acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) and P2X receptors. They trimeric ligand-gated ion channels that open cation-selective pores in response to binding of extracellular protons and ATP, respectively. They play important roles in synaptic transmission throughout the body and their dysfunction has been implicated in numerous diseases, such as hearing loss, pain and stroke (Heusser & Pless, in preparation; Illes et al., Br J Pharm, 2020). We are interested in all molecular aspects of these ion channels, including the basic mechanism of activation, the origin of their ion selectivity, their pharmacology, as well as functional modulation by protein-protein interactions.
Left: Sodium ions binding to the ASIC selectivity filter