|Karl-Heinz Braunewell, Ph.D. - SRI
Leader, Molecular & Cellular Neuroscience Laboratory (Southern Research Institute)
Areas of Focus: Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology, function of neuronal calcium sensors in health and disease
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Southern Research Institute 2000 Ninth Avenue South Birmingham, AL 35205
Calcium plays a key role in cellular signaling processes such as regulation of enzymatic activities and neurotransmitter release, in neuronal plasticity and gene expression. Calcium-binding proteins have an important role as mediators of calcium signals in cellular signaling pathways in physiological as well as in pathophysiological processes of the central nervous system (CNS). The investigation of intracellular neuronal calcium sensor (NCS) proteins, such as VILIP-1, -2, -3, hippocalcin, neurocalcin and NCS-1 may gain new insights into the physiology and pathophysiology of calcium signaling processes in the brain. (For review, see Braunewell 2005 TiPS. 26:345-351.) The general goal of my research is to understand calcium-dependent signaling mechanisms of NCS proteins at the molecular and cellular level, as well as to clarify the role of NCS protein signaling in CNS disorders. To reach this goal, a broad interdisciplinary approach - including biochemical, molecular biology, cell biology, immunohistochemical as well as electrophysiological methods - is employed. My lab currently studies structure-function relations of NCS proteins and their interaction partners, the role of NCS protein signaling for morphological differentiation of neurons, and their role in synaptic plasticity and in CNS disorders, ranging from Alzheimer`s disease to schizophrenia.