Cynthia Czajkowski

Cynthia Czajkowski
Professor, Department of Neuroscience
(608) 265-5863


Ph.D. State University of New York at Brooklyn

Lab Website:

Research Focus:

The structure and function of the GABAA receptor

Research Strengths:

Membrane Excitability and Synaptic Transmission; Molecular Neuroscience

Research Description:

The major focus of the lab is on understanding the function and structure of the GABAA receptor. GABAA receptors are the major inhibitory neurotransmitter-gated-ion-channels in the brain. While GABA controls the opening of an intrinsic anion-conducting channel, GABAA receptor function is modulated by a variety of clinically important classes of drugs, including benzodiazepines, barbiturates, volatile anesthetics, neuroactive steroids and alcohol. Clinically, benzodiazepines, barbiturates and neuroactive steroids are used in the treatments of epilepsy, anxiety and panic disorders as well as other psychiatric illnesses.  Recently, mutations in the GABAA receptor have been linked to human epilepsy. Using computational modeling, protein chemistry, electrophysiological and molecular biological approaches, we are mapping and identifying the amino acid residues that form the binding sites for GABA as well as for therapeutic drugs that bind to the receptor. Ultimately, a clear understanding of the structural mechanisms coupling GABA binding to anion-channel opening requires, at a minimum, the identification of the amino acid residues which form the binding site pocket for GABA. In addition, we are examining how mutations associated with human epilepsies alter GABAA receptor function. We are also interested in examining the assembly and trafficking of the receptor and how interactions with other proteins modulate GABAA receptor function.


Please see PubMed for most recent publications