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Research Group
Biophysics and Pharmacology of ionic channels
Unit Unit Molecular Neurobiology »

Principal Investigator
Research Fields
Our research interests are the functional study of ligand-gated ionic channels, mainly the neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (NNRs). The two major aspects of these studies are:

1. The relationship between molecular structure and function. By combining heterologous expression of receptor subunits, chimeras or mutated, and electrophysiological techniques (recordings of macroscopic and single channel currents) we study the structural components involved in different functional characteristics of NNRs, principally the structures involved in the transmission of the signal produced in the bindig site to the gate of the ionic pore. The results are analyzed in the theoretical framework of different kinetic models.

2. Pharmacological properties of several substances with potential therapeutic interest. NRRs are involved in the etiopathogenesis of several neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer, Parkinson, etc.) and in some socio-pathological behaviors (nicotine addiction). We study different drugs that could be useful in the therapy of these diseases. The primary objectives are establishing their pharmacological selectivity for different subtypes of NNRs and the study of the mechanism of action at the molecular level. For this we use both the heterologous expression of different subunit combinations of NNRs and the study of the native receptors in chromaffin cells, by using the electrophysiological techniques described above.

Representative Publications

Campos-Caro, A. , Sala, S., Ballesta, J.J., Vicente-Agulló, F., Criado, M., Sala, F. " A single residue in the M2-M3 loop is a major determinant of coupling between binding and gating in neuronal nicotinic receptors. " Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. . 93 , 6118 - 6123 ( 1996 )

Rovira, J.C. , Ballesta, J.J., Vicente-Agulló, F., Campos-Caro, A., Criado, M., Sala, F., Sala, S. " A residue in the middle of the M2-M3 loop of the b4 subunit specifically affects gating of neuronal nicotinic receptors. " FEBS letters . 433 , 89 - 92 ( 1998 )

Rovira, J.C. , Vicente-Agulló, F., Campos-Caro, A., Criado, M., Sala, F., Sala, S., Ballesta, J.J. " Gating of alpha3-beta4 neuronal nicotinic receptor can be controlled by the loop M2-M3 of both alpha3 and beta4 subunits. " Pflügers Arch . 439 , 86 - 92 ( 1999 )

Sala F , Mulet J, Valor LM, Criado M, and Sala S. " Effects of benzothiazepines on human neuronal nicotinic receptors expressed in xenopus oocytes. " British Journal of Pharmacology . 136(2) , 183 - 192 ( 2002 )

Sala F , Mulet J, Choi S, Jung S, Nah S, Rhim H, Valor LM, Criado M, and Sala S. " Effects of gingenoside Rg2 on human neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. " Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeut . 301 , 1052 - 1059 ( 2002 )
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas
Universidad Miguel Hernández

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