The Foskett lab is interested, most generally, in membrane transport and cell signaling. The techniques employed in the lab span the spectrum from biophysical to molecular. Biochemical and molecular tools are used within the context of physiological measurement, with the goal to understand how molecular behavior results in complex cell physiological processes in normal and disease states. The lab employs electrophysiology, including single ion channel patch clamping and two-electrode voltage clamping; digital low light-level fluorescence imaging microscopy of single living cells; micro-injection; yeast 2-hybrid system to examine and discover protein interactions; recombinant protein expression; molecular biology; and biochemistry.
The inositol trisphosphate receptor Ca2+ release ion channel A focus of the lab is the molecular physiology of intracellular signaling by Ca2+, with a particular focus on unique approaches for studying the properties and regulation of intracellular Ca2+ release channels, especially inositol trisphosphate receptors (InsP3R), and their roles in normal and pathological cell physiological states. The InsP3Rs are a family of proteins expressed in all cells, that participate in generating Ca2+ signals that can be manifested as highly localized subcellular events or more globally throughout cells, often as highly complex signals with exquisite patterns generated in both space and time. These signals participate in normal cell physiological processes, including mitosis, motility, secretion and gene transcription, and in pathological states, including epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease and programmed cell death (apoptosis). The lab has developed novel techniques to study the properties of single InsP3R ion channels, and it has developed expression systems to enable the study of recombinant isoforms. An important thrust in the lab has been to relate the behaviors of the channels to the properties of the cytoplasmic Ca2+ signals that they generate, and to understand how these signals regulate important physiological and pathological processes. The Foskett laboratory is internationally recognized as a leader in the biophysics and cell biology of the InsP3R Ca2+ release channel and protein interactions with it. This work has led the lab into studies of the molecular mechanisms of programmed cell death, the genetically-inherited forms of Alzheimer’s disease, and cellular bioenergetics and autophagy with relevance for neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.