Michael R Koelle, PhD

Associate Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry

Research Interests

Biochemistry; Biophysics; Molecular Biology; Neurobiology; Serotonin; Caenorhabditis elegans; Neurotransmitter Agents; RGS Proteins

Research Organizations

Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program

Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry: Neurobiology

Research Summary

We study the mechanism of signaling by neurotransmitters, the molecules neurons use to communicate with each other. We first identify and study behavioral mutants of the nematode C. elegans in which neurotransmitter signaling is defective. By cloning the genes defined by the mutations we can identify the molecules responsible for signaling, study them biochemically, and determine the detailed mechanisms underlying neurotransmission. Using this approach, we discovered a large family of Regulators of G Protein Signaling (RGS proteins) that directly inactivate the G proteins that mediate much of the signaling in the brain. One current project focuses how signaling by the neurotransmitter GABA is regulated to reduce neural activity enough to prevent seizures but not so much as to prevent any activity. Another project seeks to uncover the basic mechanisms of signaling by the neurotransmitter serotonin, defects in which are thought to underlie depression in humans.

Specialized Terms: C. Elegans; G Protein; Neurotransmission; RGS Protein; Serotonin; Molecular Genetics; Neurobiology; Neurotransmitters; Proteins and Macromolecules; Receptors

Selected Publications

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