Whorton Lab -- Vollum Institute, OHSU


We are interested in understanding detailed mechanisms of how membrane proteins function. For instance, how is the opening and activity of ion channels, transporters, and receptors regulated by ligands and other proteins? How do ion channels and transporters selectively allow some ions and substrates through but not others? How do membrane-embedded enzymes catalyze their reactions, and why do they need to be at the membrane to do so?

Our general approach to answering these fundamental questions is through electrophysiological, biochemical, and biophysical functional studies, coupled with determining high-resolution structures of these proteins using X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy.

Why are we interested in these questions? Cells have developed many ways to get nutrients, ions, and signaling information across the barrier of the lipid membrane. This places membrane proteins as central players in many physiological processes and makes them important drug targets. Understanding detailed mechanisms of how these proteins work is crucial for understanding how their function is related to disease states, and how this knowledge can be used to design new or more effective drugs.


As a new lab, we are still developing the projects that we're working on. Check back later for more details.