Research Interests

Interests in my laboratory revolve around the function and regulation of protein kinases in signal transduction pathways. A major goal is to identify and understand the regulatory mechanisms and functions of components of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades. These protein kinases are important participants in controlling cellular events such as proliferation, differentiation, homeostasis, motility, and cell death. Current work focuses on the following: 1. Mechanisms controlling signaling specificity. Many ligands activate an overlapping array of signaling pathways. We are defining protein-protein interactions and mechanisms of subcellular localization of signal transducers to understand how distinct outputs are generated by different hormones and other agents. 2. Signal transduction mechanisms used by nutrients to regulate the biology of beta cells of the islets of Langerhans. These cells produce and secrete insulin. We are learning how MAPKs and WNKs help to coordinate these processes. 3. Mechanisms of action of the WNK subfamily of protein kinases. These enzymes are causative in certain forms of hypertension. We are determining their normal functions and how they impact the behavior of epithelial cells that can lead to disease. 4. Structure-function relationships in the protein kinase family. In collaboration with Betsy Goldsmith, we use mutagenesis and X-ray crystallography to understand regulatory mechanisms in kinase cascades.

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Primary Section

Section 41: Medical Genetics, Hematology, and Oncology

Secondary Section

Section 23: Physiology and Pharmacology