In working group 8 "Cellular Neurophysiology" we investigate signal transduction processes that control the activity of excitable cells. We use cellular and molecular biological as well as electrophysiological methods to clarify how changes in these signalling pathways can be identified as the cause of pathological symptoms. These can be excitation disorders in neurons or heart cells caused by altered electrical activity of certain transmembrane proteins. These membrane pores (ion channels) enable the extra- and intracellular exchange of charged particles. They are subject to a strictly coordinated regulation and determine the activity of the cells and tissues. If mutations occur in such ion channels (channelopathies), their physiological function changes and disease symptoms of entire organs occur. So far, about 150 ion channel mutations have been identified in the nervous system, the heart, the kidney and the immune system, which are associated, for example, with certain forms of epilepsy, atrial fibrillation, nephrogenic diabetes insipidus or myasthenia gravis.
In our working group, we are investigating the involvement of potassium ion channels in particular in the development of neurological, cardiac and psychiatric symptoms in cooperation with clinics, initially from Würzburg.