Signal Transduction Mediated by Calcium

The central aim of our group is to study cellular signal transduction processes that require calcium release from the intracellular stores present in neurons, cardiac or skeletal muscle. In particular, our present interests focus in the study of calcium release channels/ryanodine receptors (RyR), a type of release channel amply distributed in cells forming part of different animal tissues, placing special emphasis on neuronal cells.

To characterize the properties and functional aspects of the calcium release channels/ryanodine receptors, we currently use different experimental approaches:

  1. We study the single channel properties of isolated calcium release channels/ryanodine receptors incorporated in planar lipid bilayers. In this system, we analyze biophysical channel properties and we investigate modulation of channel activity by endogenous agonists and inhibitors, and by phosphorylation or redox modifications.
  2. We also study in cells in culture (muscle and neurons) how redox agents modify the activity of calcium release channels, and how redox-induced channel modifications affect intracellular signaling pathways, including activation of calcium-dependent transcription factors and the expression of genes involved in synaptic plasticity and memory.
  3. In parallel, we study how stimulation/inhibition of RyR channel activity affects synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus, and how calcium release mediated by these channels contributes to hippocampal memory formation and consolidation.