Wiring and Function of Somatosensory Circuits Group
Unraveling the molecular and cellular basis of somatic sensation in normal and pathological conditions.
During Ardem’s visit to the Instituto de Neurociencias, Sergio and I had the opportunity to show him our latest results on new Piezo2 interacting proteins and structure function.
He presented his research on the role of Piezo2 blade domains, which are essential for sensing mechanical forces. His work expands our understanding of the molecular bases of the exquisite mechanical sensitivity of Piezo2, the fundamental channel for touch and proprioception. Stay tuned for more updates on his groundbreaking research in biophysics.
Sensory Fibers and Pain
Somatosensory neurons from the Dorsal Root and Trigeminal ganglia transduce and relay sensory information in a modality-specific manner. For instance, pain is transmitted by the pain fibers or nociceptors, while touch and thermal information are transmitted by mechanoreceptors and thermoreceptors, respectively.
Upon injury or pathology, these fibers experience changes in their functional properties leading to some manifestations of pain such as mechanical and thermal hyperalgesia. We are interested in understanding those changes in different painful conditions such as nerve injury, burn injury or diabetes.
Function and regulation of force gated ion channels.
Sensory fibers innervating different body tissues contain membrane proteins that sense and transduce diverse physical and chemical signals into ionic currents. We are especially interested in understanding how the activity of the force gated channel Piezo2 is regulated in sensory neurons. Therefore, we study the regions impacting on force detection and membrane trafficking. Similarly, we study the function of different Piezo2 variants and accessory proteins in regulating Piezo2 channel activity. To this end, we combine various molecular and electrophysiological tools with cutting-edge microscopy setups to give us new details on the Piezo2 function. Eventually, this novel knowledge would help us to develop new strategies to modulate sensory fiber activity with impact in painful pathologies.
Sensory processing at the spinal Cord
Afferent fibers relay sensory information to the spinal cord circuits. These circuits process the multidimensional sensory information in a modality-specific manner. However, some microcircuits interact and enable stimuli counteraction such as touch inhibiting itch or pain. Understanding how modality-specific microcircuits interact to modulate pain outcomes is the driving force of the research group. Among the spinal circuits, we are especially interested in those involved in cold processing.
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