Lawrence B. Salkoff, Ph.D.


Neurosciences Program
Molecular Genetics and Genomics Program
Molecular Cell Biology Program
Developmental, Regenerative and Stem Cell Biology Program

  • 314-362-3644

  • 314-362-3677

  • 314-750-1717

  • 314-362-3446

  • 979 McDonnell Medical Sciences Building


  • neurobiology, genome analysis, development, behavior, physiology

  • How ion channels function in physiology and behavior

Research Abstract:

Our laboratory studies potassium channels which are key elements which control and shape electrical activity in the brain, heart, and other excitable tissues. These channels are major determinants of behavior and higher brain function. The potassium channels we study are involved in human disease (e.g. epilepsy, cardiac arrhythmia), basic physiology (e.g. control of blood pressure, protection from hypoxia), and higher brain function (e.g. learning and memory). Our approach is a comparative genomic one which involves comparing the structure and function of potassium channels in different species (e.g. humans, rodents, Drosophila and the nematode worm C. elegans). These comparisons have led us to many fundamental insights about the basic function, development, and regulation of potassium channels, and their role in behavior. The techniques we use in our laboratory include genetics and genomics, the creation and use of transgenic animals, molecular biology, and biophysical studies which include electrophysiological recordings of both native cells and heterologous cell systems which we use to express our cloned channels.

In general, ion channels are the major effector molecules through which neurotransmitters and many hormones act. Ion channels are the “transistors” (electronic switches) of the brain that generate and propagate electrical signals in the aqueous environment of the brain that resembles dilute seawater, a reflection of the evolutionary origin of the nervous system in the sea. Ion channels not only generate active electrical responses, but they set the resting potentials of cells, as well. Without them, life as we know it would not exist, much less higher brain function.

Selected Publications:

Chvez JC, Ferreira Gregorio J, Butler A, Treviňo CL, Darszon A, Salkoff L, Santi CM. (2014) SLO3 K+ Channels Control Calcium Entry through CATSPER Channels in Sperm. J Biol Chem. 2014;289(46):32266-75. PMID: 25271166

Gonzalo Budelli, Yanyan Geng, Alice Butler, Karl L. Magleby, and Lawrence Salkoff (2013) Properties of Slo1 K+ channels with and without the gating ring. PNAS 110: 16657–16662. PMCID: PMC3799338

Chavez JC, de la Vega-Beltrn JL, Escoffier J, Visconti PE, Trevio CL, Darszon A, Salkoff L, Santi CM. (2013) Ion Permeabilities in Mouse Sperm Reveal an External Trigger for SLO3-Dependent Hyperpolarization. PLoS One.;8(4):e60578. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0060578.

Travis A. Hage, Lawrence Salkoff (2012) Sodium-Activated Potassium Channels are Functionally Coupled to Persistent Sodium Currents, J Neurosci. 32(8):2714-21

Budelli G, Hage T, Wei A, Rojas P, Jong Y-JI, O’Malley K, Salkoff L. Na+-activated K+ channels express a large delayed outward current in neurons during normal physiology. Nature Neurosci. 2009 12(6):745-50.

Salkoff L, Butler A, Ferreira G, Santi CM, Wei A. High conductance Potassium Channels of the Slo Family. Nature Reviews Neurosci 2006 5:921-931.

Santi CM, Ferreira G, Yang B, Gazula V-R, Butler A, Wei A, Kaczmarek LK, & Salkoff L. Opposite regulation of Slick and Slack K+ channels by neuromodulators. J Neurosci 2006 26:5059-5068.

Yuan A, Santi CM, Wei A, et al. The sodium-activated potassium channel is encoded by a member of the Slo gene family. Neuron 2003 37:765–773.

Last Updated: 8/21/2015 9:23:04 AM

Single channel currents from sodium-activated potassium currents [SLO2 (Slack)]. These high conductance channels control many aspects of excitability in the mammalian brain. Unlike SLO1 channels, they are inhibited rather than activated by divalent cations (as illustrated). Single channel currents of an inside-out patch containing at least four channels are shown.
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