Stephen J Tucker
Professor of Biophysics
Ion channel structure and function
Our research is focussed on understanding the intimate relationship between the structure of an ion channel and its function. The objectives of our research are to understand how and why ion channels do what they do i.e. to understand their molecular mechanism of operation at an atomic level as well as understanding their role in physiology and disease. As a model system we work primarily with the Two-Pore family of 'K2P' potassium channels (as well as the 'Kir' family of inwardly-rectifying potassium channels).
In a recent study (Dong et al, Science 2015) we have been working closely with colleagues at the Structural Genomics Consortium to use electrophysiological methods to examine the functional relevance of different conformational states of the human TREK-1 and TREK-2 K2P channels which have recently been identified by X-ray crystallography. Other projects include the use of new biochemical, biophysical and crystallographic approaches to study ion channel structure, understanding how drugs bind to ion channels to modulate their activity, single-molecule FRET/imaging techniques and computational approaches to the study of ion channel structure/function. On several of these projects we work closely with the Neuroscience and Pain Research Unit at Pfizer (Cambridge UK).