Monica Sala-Rabanal, PhD
Research Instructor, Colin Nichols lab
Department of Cell Biology and Physiology
Washington University in St. Louis
St. Louis, MO 63110
Structure-function and physiology of membrane transporters… and ion channels!
I come from Barcelona (Spain). In 1997 I graduated from the University of Barcelona School of Biology, and went on to pursue graduate studies in the same institution. I joined the laboratory of Professor Joana M. Planas of the School of Pharmacy Physiology Department, and in 2003 I obtained my PhD with a thesis on the physiology of the gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata), which included the functional characterization of the fish intestinal sodium-dependent glucose cotransporter, SGLT1.
Soon after I began my postdoctoral stay in the laboratory of Professor Ernest Wright of the UCLA Department of Physiology. While in UCLA, my research focused on the physiology, pharmacology and biophysics of membrane transporters, such as the human proton-coupled oligopeptide and drug transporters, hPEPT1 (SLC15A1) and hPEPT2 (SLC15A2), and human SGLT1 (SLC5A1). For example, I described the molecular mechanisms by which natural substrates and drugs are transported by the hPEPTs, including an experimentally based kinetic model, and studied the importance of polymorphisms.
Since joining the Nichols lab in January 2009, I have undertaken various projects. For example, I am investigating the interactions between different members the organic cation transporter (OCT) family (SLC22) and the polyamines, which are responsible for the phenomenon of inward rectification in K+ channels. In addition, I am immersed in the functional characterization of disease-linked mutations in the inwardly rectifying K+ channel Kir4.1, expressed in many neuronal and glial cells.