Gucan Dai, PhD


Saint Louis University (SLU)

We combine biophysical and biochemical techniques, including patch-clamp fluorometry, spectroscopic FRET, protein engineering, and single-cell biophysics to understand how neuronal and cardiac ion channels are controlled by membrane voltages, the binding of intracellular ligands, and the rapid dynamics of cellular lipids. These mechanisms are important for major diseases, including neuropathic pain, epilepsy, and cardiac arrhythmia.
Particularly, we are interested in the voltage-sensing and regulatory mechanisms of pacemaker hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels. The HCN channel governs cardiac pacemaking and plays a role in controlling the firing of nociceptive neurons. To understand how HCN channels are implicated in the cellular and structural basis of pain sensation, experimental plans will focus on the structural mechanisms of human HCN channels and on the channel modulation that is related to the neuropathic pain.
We are also interested in how ion channels depend on their lipid environment, the dynamics of key signaling phosphoinositides and the lipid-raft microdomains.