School of Medicine
Alonso Moreno

Our laboratory is focused on the study of intercellular communication through gap junctions; a group of intercellular channels formed after the oligomerization proteins named connexins.

These channels participate in the regulation of electrical communication in the heart, where appropriate temporal and spatial expression are decisive for the physiological well function of the heart.

The main efforts in our laboratory are several fold:

  • Characterize the permeability and gating properties of multi-oligomeric cardiac gap junction channels.
  • Determine the biophysical and biochemical mechanisms necessary to reconnect electrically uncoupled cells from cardiac-damaged tissue.
  • Determine the mechanisms of gating of cardiac connexins due to phosphorylation and pH.
  • Determine the effects of geometric and coupling effects on hetero-cellular communication in cardiac tissue.

We possess a strong background in cellular electrophysiologic techniques and cellular membrane physiology. Senior technician Chris Hunter expertly instructs cells to over-express wild type or mutant connexins of interest through genetic engineering (cellular transfections or transgenic mice). Using novel biomolecular approaches we are capable of regulating this level of expression and testing the effects of changes in coupling properties of these cells in conjunction with myocytes and neurons. Our success relies on maintaining a contamination-free laboratory coordinated by Research Technician Rosie Iturralde.

Collaborations allow us to conduct our research using the latest technological innovations. Current collaborations include: the Bioengineering Department and the Division of Cardiology at the University of Utah (Frank Sachse, Phil Ershler), the Department of Physiology at BYU (David Bursath), the Department of Molecular Biology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry (Gary S. Goldberg), the Methodist Research Institute (Rafat Siddiqui and Carlos Labarrere), the School of Engineering of Purdue University at Indianapolis (Ed Berbari), the University of Chicago (Eric Beyer), and the Albert Eistein College of Medicine (David Spray).

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