I am a second-year graduate student of the pharmacology program in Dr. Ron Emeson’s lab. My current project focuses on the functional consequences of RNA editing on the Kv1.1 voltage-gated potassium channel. The α-subunit of the Kv1.1-subtype of voltage-gated potassium channel (Kv) plays an important role in regulating neuronal excitability. By dampening excitability at the axon initial segment and juxtaparanodal region, it can influence action potential initiation, propagation and reduce nerve terminal excitability, permitting fine-tuning of neurotransmitter release. Genetic knockout studies have revealed that mice lacking Kv1.1 expression develop spontaneous seizures, hyperalgesia, and neurogenic cardiac dysfunction. RNA transcripts encoding the Kv1.1 subunit are modified by a site-specific Adenosine to Inosine editing event in which a genomically-encoded isoleucine (ATT) is converted to a valine (ITT) codon, changing the identity of amino acid 400 within the S6 transmembrane domain lining the ion-conducting pore. Changes in Kv1.1 editing have been shown to affect the rate of channel recovery from inactivation.
My clinical mentor is Dr. Martin Gallagher. Dr. Gallagher’s research focuses on genes associated with various forms of epilepsy, specifically Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME) and Juvenile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (JNCL). As an American board of Psychiatry and Neurology and American Board of Clinical Neurophysiology certified physician in Neurology, Clinical Neurophysiology, and Epilepsy Monitoring, Dr. Gallagher also spends time in the clinic focusing on both the medical and surgical treatment of patients with epilepsy.