How cholesterol controls the threshold that regulates biological function and the severity of disease

Our laboratory studies the role of cholesterol in setting thresholds of anesthesia, mechanosensation, amyloid formation, and viral entry. By understanding the thresholds, we aim to treat diseases caused by altered cholesterol levels and signaling lipids.

The Hansen Lab studies ion channels in mechano-sensation and anesthesia. Numerous ion channels are gated by lipids in particular PIP2 and PA. We employ electrophysiology, membrane protein crystallography, and HTS drug screening to elucidate the role of lipid gating in pain and conciousness and find treatments for related diseases. 

Lipid gating of ion channels

We have found that membrane phospholipids gate ion channels with classic agonist like properties. This gives rise to a class of “lipid gated” ion channels.