Calcium is an important intracellular messenger that regulates cellular processes such as gene expression, enzyme activity, muscle contraction, and neurotransmitter/hormone release. Voltage-gated calcium channels (Ca2+-channels) are one of the main routes of calcium entry into neurons and other excitable cells, so they play pivotal roles in these many diverse biochemical and molecular events.
The Currie Lab investigates the properties and regulation of Ca2+-channels, and the mechanisms that control neurotransmitter and hormone secretion (stimulus-secretion coupling). Under physiological conditions, changes in the efficacy of stimulus-secretion coupling are important in neuronal communication and contribute to synaptic plasticity. Conversely, disruption of stimulus-secretion coupling has been linked to several neurological disorders and can also have serious consequences in the endocrine system including impaired insulin release associated with diabetes. There are a number of projects in the lab that focus on different facets of Ca2+-channels and stimulus-secretion coupling. The goal is to understand the regulation of Ca2+-channels and transmitter release under physiological conditions, and identify potential therapeutic targets for treatment of nervous and endocrine system disorders in which these finely tuned processes are disrupted.