Vivian Li L&S Sciences
Investigating the Role of TREK1 Ion Channels in Social Memory
The firing properties of a neuron are not only influenced by the electrical and chemical signals it receives, but also by the physical properties of its environment. Their ability to detect stimuli such as pH, temperature, and mechanical pressure allows a neuron to change its excitability in response. Two-pore domain potassium (K2P) ion channels are of particular importance because they are crucial in hyperpolarizing and modulating the resting membrane potential. Deviations from normal resting membrane potentials lead to unexpected consequences, including mental illness.The purpose of this research project is to investigate the effects of the K2P ion channel TREK1, a mechanosensitive potassium channel in the hippocampus, and its influence on the social memory of mice. Over the summer, I will address these issues with behavioral assays testing the social memory of TREK1 knockout (KO) and wild-type (wt) mice and by measuring the electrophysiological properties of the hippocampus in these two genotypes, potentially allowing us to understand the significance of TREK1 in mice and later, humans.