There are two major directions to my lab’s research:
(1) We study the mechanisms that control the sleep/wake cycle in the model organism Drosophila melanogaster. Our studies have identified molecules that were previously unknown to regulate sleep, including endogenous prototoxins called Ly6 proteins that control excitability and synaptic transmission, as well as the RNA editing enzyme, ADAR, which controls short-term plasticity within a sleep-promoting neural circuit. Our studies are thus defining the biological basis of sleep regulation, the mechanistic link between sleep and synaptic plasticity, and ultimately novel potential targets for intervening in sleep-related disorders.
(2) We also study the functions of Ly6 proteins in the mammalian brain. Our data indicate that various Ly6 proteins regulate the gating, trafficking and pharmacology of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in different ways with important implications for nicotine addiction, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.