Postgraduate Profiles

Evelyne Deplazes

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Thesis: Elucidating the structure of mechanosensitive ion channels using spectroscopy and stimulation

Elucidating the structure and function of mechanosensitive ion channels using spectroscopy and simulations

Why my research is important

Ion channels are poreforming proteins that facilitate electrical signalling between cells by allowing ions to pass across cell walls. Mechanosensitive channels are a type of ion channel that are activated by a mechanical force. They have most likely evolved to protect microorganism from sudden osmotic shock but are also found in mammals were they are involved for a range of physiological processes such as hearing, touch sensation and cardiac function.

Despite the importance of mechanosensation little is known about the process at the molecular level. The mechanosensitive channel of large conductance (MscL) is one of the most widely studied ion channels and has been used as a model for understanding mechanosensation. The mechanisms of how the protein “senses the pressure” and structural rearrangements to open the pore are still unknown. In this project we use a range of computational methods in combination with experimental data to investigate the structure and function of the MscL protein.