This SRC will highlight the latest research on mechanisms of ion channel regulation and its impact on the physiology of diverse cell types. Regulation of ion channel activity is essential for physiological functions including neuronal firing, synaptic transmission, hormonal secretion, muscle contraction, and cell migration. A major goal of this conference is to stimulate discourse, seed new ideas, and facilitate collaboration in ways that will accelerate new discoveries about ion channel regulation at both the basic and translational levels. Accounting for ~1% of human genes, ion channels are subject to numerous disease-causing mutations. These “channelopathies” affect the nervous system (e.g., epilepsy, pain, migraine, ataxia, autism, hearing and vision loss), the cardiovascular system (e.g., cardiac arrhythmia, hypertension), and other tissues (e.g., cystic fibrosis, muscle disease). Not surprisingly, ion channels are major drug targets in the treatment of epilepsy, neuropathic pain, hypertension and cardiac arrhythmia, and ion channel dysregulation is also associated with mental illness and cancer. Electrophysiological and structural analyses of ion channels have clarified pathogenic mechanisms and have guided the design of new therapeutics. However, drugs targeting the structurally conserved core machinery of ion channels have limitations, thus current efforts in drug discovery also include targets involved in regulation of ion channel function. Studies of ion channel regulation require approaches in addition to classical electrophysiology: including but not limited to sophisticated imaging methods to study ion channel localization and trafficking, mass spectrometry to characterize ion channel proteomes, chemical engineering to probe ion channel biophysics, high-throughput screening to identify novel ion channel modulators, and phenotyping of genetically modified mice to define how human ion channel mutations cause disease. This conference aims to fuel the “engine of discovery,” by bringing together scientists applying all of these diverse technical and conceptual strategies to study ion channel regulation across a range of different biological systems.
The program consists of nine scientific sessions and a keynote address, as well as two breakout sessions and lunches focused on trainee career development. Scientific sessions are organized around themes, rather than ion channel subtype, to foster crosstalk between fields, and will cover a variety of topics including: sensory systems and pain; regulation of neuronal excitability; regulation of gene expression; ion channels in disease; ion channel structure and drug development; recent advances in imaging and ion channel cell biology; regulation of the cardiovascular system and skeletal muscle; regulation of ER Ca2+ stores and other organelles; celebrating Bill Catterall and ion channels. Presentations in these sessions will be made by both new, up-and-coming investigators as well as established leaders in the ion channel field, including several members of the National Academy of Sciences. Each session will also include two short-talks to be selected from the abstracts, with an emphasis on presentations by graduate students, postdoctoral trainees, and junior faculty.