The central aim of our group is to study cellular signal transduction processes that are affected by calcium release from the intracellular stores present in neurons, cardiac or skeletal muscle. In particular, our interest is focused in the study of calcium release channels/ryanodine receptors, a type of release channel amply distributed in cells forming part of different animal tissues. To characterize the properties of the calcium release channels/ryanodine receptors, we currently use three 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. In parallel, we study the modulation of channel activity in isolated sarcoplasmic reticulum vesicles, where channels retain their interaction with other proteins that presumably regulate their activity. For this purpose, we measure fast calcium release fluxes and we investigate the effects on calcium release of the same variables mentioned above.
3. 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