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Nicholas Catin Vierra, BS

Graduate Student, Jacobson laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

The deterioration of pancreatic islet function is a hallmark of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). In the Jacobson lab, I study the physiological functions of an islet potassium channel, TALK-1. TALK-1 is the most transcriptionally abundant potassium channel in insulin-secreting β-cells, and polymorphisms in TALK-1 are associated with an increased susceptibility for T2DM. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying TALK-1’s contributions to T2DM pathogenesis remain unclear. Using a variety of experimental approaches, including electrophysiology, calcium imaging, hormone secretion, and mouse models, we have recently found that TALK-1 channels regulate islet calcium homeostasis and insulin secretion. These findings suggest that TALK-1 could serve as a therapeutic target in T2DM.