Amyloid Ion Channels: Foe or Friend? Alzheimer's Disease to Antibiotics

Friday, January 11, 2013 - 2:00pm
Fung Auditorium | Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall
Ratnesh Lal, PhD

UC San Diego

Amyloid Ion Channels: Foe or Friend? Alzheimer's Disease to Antibiotics


Amyloids are formed by misfolded proteins that underlie a series of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and systemic diseases including diabetes mellitus and cystic fibrosis. In a series of studies, using AFM, biochemical assays, cell physiology and cell biology we have now defined clearly that small oligomeric amyloidogenic peptides and not their fibrillar form induce toxicty by forming ion channels (J Biol Chem 1998, FASEB J, 2001, 2000., 2000, Biochemistry, 1999; PNAS 2005). Thus protein misfolding diseases belong to the so-called “channelopathies” with defined structural features that could be used to screen, design and deliver therapeutic interventions. In collaboration with Dr. Ruth Nussinov at NCI and at Tel Aviv University, we have now used atomistic scale molecular dynamic simulation to define why these amyloids form ion channels. The findings are published in TIBS (2007) and PNAS (2010).


Professor Lal received his MS and Masters of Philosophy in Physics and Biophysics from JNU in New Delhi and his Ph.D. in Neurobiology from the University of Alabama. After postdoctoral training at Caltech, he was a faculty member at the University of Chicago and the University of California at Santa Barbara. Before assuming his current position at UCSD, he was a Professor and the Director of the newly established Center of Nanomedicine at the University of Chicago.