Ion channels are the fastest cellular signaling system that controls an extensive array of physiological processes. Retinal pigment epithelium cells (RPE) have been shown to express multiple of these channel families and they have been associated with functions such as transepithelial ion transport, growth factor secretion, volume regulation and photoreceptor outer segment renewal. Research in our group focuses on characterizing human, zebrafish and murine ion channels and gap junctions present in RPE. Our aim is to unravel how these channels collectively influence its physiology and intercellular communication. Understanding ion channel function in the healthy eye also provides a basis for understanding their malfunctions in various ophthalmological disorders.
Our group has demonstrated (BMC Biology, 2019 & 2023) how electrical signaling through voltage-gated sodium channels (Nav) is vital for the RPE physiology and regulation of photoreceptor outer segment renewal through phagocytosis. However, a detailed understanding of how ion channels affect this process, including its dynamics, has not yet been resolved. Our interdisciplinary approach combines electrophysiology (patch clamp, MEA, calcium imaging) with classical molecular biology tools and confocal imaging.