Members of the Gouaux laboratory study the molecular principles underpinning the structure and function of chemical synapses. These specialized junctions are the primary sites of communication between neurons and are fundamental to the development and function of the peripheral and central nervous systems. Disruption of signal transduction at chemical synapses is implicated in a broad range of diseases, disorders and injuries and thus our studies not only provide fundamental insights into a crucial element of the nervous system but they also can be exploited for the development of new therapeutic agents.
In broad strokes our work includes studies of ionotropic glutamate receptors, ATP-gated P2X receptors and acid sensitive ion channels, as well as sodium-coupled glutamate, glycine, GABA and biogenic amine transporters. We employ multiple biochemical, biophysical and electrophysiological methods to investigate the atomic structures and biological functions of these molecules, with a particular emphasis on x-ray diffraction methods. In conjunction with the application of standard approaches, we also seek to develop novel techniques and tools or to improve upon pre-existing methodologies in order to facilitate our studies.