In memory of Dan Getz (1969-2006) and sponsored by the Dan Getz Endowed Fund for Heart Disease Research, the most recent lecture in the Heart Research Series was presented on Wednesday afternoon. For the many that were in attendance, Dr. Steve Goldstein, the newly appointed Provost of the university, presented a wonderful story on his ongoing research involving K2P channels. The ubiquitously expressed K2P channels are critical in regulating a cell’s resting membrane potential, making them essential for the proper function of any cell that operates through electrical stimulation. His research has uncovered the surprising result that the activity of these elusive channels is regulated by small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) proteins. Sumoylation was widely thought to only occur in the nucleus, but a number of elegantly designed experiments proved that this is not the case. The recent finding that the activity of these channels is modulated by sumoylation uncovers an entirely new way of thinking about K2P channel activity. Although the research presented was focused on specific isoforms of the channel, Dr. Goldstein’s results will extend to aid research involved with trying to understand diseases of the heart and beyond.
Colocalization of SUMO1 and K2P1 at the plasma membrane, from Plant et al. PNAS 107(23): 10743–10748, 2010.