Chen Gu, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Neuroscience


Current Research Description

Precise targeting of ion channels into distinct subcellular domains is essential for neuronal electrical signaling. Altered electrical signaling caused by mis-targeting or malfunction of ion channels can induce clinical symptoms in neurological diseases. We are interested in studying the molecular mechanisms underlying and pathophysiological significance of ion channel trafficking. Currently, we are focusing on the following two projects.

  1. Molecular mechanism underlying the axonal targeting of voltage-gated potassium (Kv) channels. Dendrite and axon are the two prominent polarized structures of neurons, responsible for the input and output of electrical signals. Axonal Kv channels control the waveform and speed of action potentials that convey signals along axons from somatodendritic regions to nerve terminals. We are pursuing the intra-neuronal mechanisms governing the axonal targeting of these channels.
  2. Targeting and function of ion channels in myelinated axons. Axon and myelinating glia exhibit remarkable cell-cell interactions during development. Crucial for the saltatory conduction and synchronized presynaptic input, myelin limits axonal ion channels into distinct membrane domains along axons, for instance voltage- gated sodium channels at the nodes of Ranvier, Kv1 channels in the juxtaparanodal regions. We are investigating how the external factor (from myelin) regulates ion channel axonal targeting, and how this regulation is involved in demyelinating diseases, such as multiple sclerosis.
Areas of Expertise
  • Molecular and Celluar Neuroscience
  • PhD: University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
  • Postdoctoral Training: University of California, San Francisco

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