Recent research conducted in a lab at Des Moines University shed new light on monitoring the transport of ions in and out of cells by specialized transporter proteins. The researchers used proton-selective electrodes and patch clamping methods to measure the activity of specialized transporter proteins. These methods overcame some of the major limitations of techniques typically used to study the proteins’ activity.
“Transport of ions such as protons across the cell membrane affect processes essential to life. However, our understanding of the biophysical and molecular properties of these transport cells is inadequate given the major limitations of techniques typically used to study their activity,” says Francesca Di Sole, Ph.D., assistant professor of physiology and pharmacology. “Applications of our approach range from structural biology through to physiological and pharmacological studies. Using this method, we discovered novel biophysical and molecular properties of the Na+/H+ exchanger-3 [NHE3], a fundamental mediator in maintaining the body’s balance of salt and fluid. NHE3 function is impaired in a multiplicity of severe and widespread clinical conditions, such as hypertension, diarrhea, heart failure, diabetes and kidney diseases. Therefore, our findings might ultimately reduce the burdens caused by these pathologies through effective treatment strategies.”
She and her research colleagues, Victor Babich, Ph.D., assistant professor at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Mercy College of Health Sciences, and Matt Henry, Ph.D., chair of physiology and pharmacology at DMU, titled the research “Application of Electrophysiology Measurement to Study the Activity of Electro-Neutral Transporters.” Their work caught the eye of JoVE, a peer-reviewed scientific journal that publishes videos of scientific experiments in laboratories around the globe. JoVE staff wanted to share the electrophysiology measurement research, but they had a problem: They weren’t able to get to Des Moines to shoot the video.
“So we did it ourselves,” Di Sole says. She and Babich wrote the script. Eric Fishback, media services analyst at DMU, set up and shot the video. Henry provided voiceover to explain the video demonstration of their research methods.
The video can be viewed on the JoVE website here and on YouTube:
“We had to be inventive to synchronize the research demonstration and the script. But when we have a challenge, we tackle it and succeed,” Di Sole says. “The project had an exciting DMU teamwork component in addition to our research achievement.”