The past few weeks of the INBRE fellowship have been quite fun. I am continuing a project in Dr. Groome’s lab to further the understanding of disease causing mutations found in the voltage gated sodium channel. I am specifically working on characterizing the effects of three mutations found in different domains of this protein that cause hypokalemic periodic paralysis. We do this by expressing this channel in Xenopus laevis eggs (frog eggs). A cut open voltage clamp technique is then used to collect data. This uses a glass microelectrode to poke into the cell and clamp it at varying voltages. When the eggs are not expressing I tend to read papers, learn how to do other tasks around the lab, and take care of our frogs.
Another project that I am excited to have started on is action potential modeling. I am working with a graduate student in our lab to learn a program that allows us to see what an action potential may look like give a certain mutation. We do this by collecting data on a mutation, and use the information gained to make a model. This will hopefully allow us to better understand why these mutations lead to disease. This has been a challenge for me as I have absolutely zero experience with computer programming. Everything with this is new and difficult, but that’s part of the fun!