Understanding the Role of GABAergic Signaling in Disease Conditions
Jing-Qiong (Katty) Kang
Associate Professor in Neurology and Pharmacology
The Kang Laboratory is interested in understanding the role of GABAergic signaling in disease conditions as well as in normal brain development. Currently, lab staff members are investigating the molecular pathophysiology of genetic variations in GABAA receptor subunit genes and two common pediatric syndromes: epilepsy and autism. In addition, the lab is interested in identifying common mechanisms overlapping severe genetic epilepsy syndromes and neurodegeneration. They are trying to understand why a single nucleotide change in a particular GABAA receptor subunit gene could give rise to severe epilepsy, impaired social and learning abilities as well as other comorbidities which could define the whole life of a child. They use in vitro approaches to understand the details of how a mutant GABAA receptor subunit gene and protein behaves and the adaptive responses of the host cell. They use in vivo approaches, such as genetically modified mouse models, to understand the changes at more physiological and systematic levels. Lab staffers aim to dissect out the detailed changes at gene, protein, cell, neural circuitry, and behavioral levels for given GABAA subunit gene mutations. Their final goal is to identify mechanism-based therapies for those who suffer from these disorders in order to improve patients’ treatments and life outcomes.