Patrick Kerstein

Patrick Kerstein
Ph.D Candidate


Timothy M. Gomez

Research Description:

My research is focused on how transient receptor potential (TRP) channels and calcium (Ca2+) signaling regulate growth cone motility. Although TRP channels are best known for their role in sensory transduction in the adult peripheral nervous system, my focus is on their role in the embryonic central nervous system where they likely transduce environmental stimuli in developing axons. In fact, strong evidence suggests that TRP channels are activated downstream of both attractive and repulsive axon guidance cues. Consistent with the inhibitory function of some TRP channels, we recently found that blocking Ca2+ influx through mechanosensitive channels (MSCs) stimulates the growth of Xenopus spinal neuron axons. Interestingly, our evidence now suggests that TRPC1 subunits contribute to MSCs on growth cones that are necessary for the inhibitory effects of mechanical stimulation. Furthermore, directly downstream of TRPC1 is the protease, calpain, which signals through proteolytic cleavage of adhesion proteins reducing point contact turnover and migration. However, the specific substrates within adhesions that calpain cleaves remain unknown in growth cones. My current research hopes to clarify which TRP channels and Ca2+ effectors are important for axon guidance and how they affect growth cone motility


Please see PubMed for most recent publications.