Theodore Wensel, PhD
Robert A. Welch Professor of Chemistry and Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Baylor College of Medicine
January 4, 2018,
Time and Location: SLU D Brotman Auditorium
Dr. Wensel’s lab studies transducin interactions with membranes. This work is focused on understanding the structural and mechanistic bases of two key steps: activation of the heterotrimeric G protein, transducin, by photoactivated rhodopsin (R*), through accelerated exchange of GTP for GDP on the G protein alpha subunit, and activation of a cGMP-specific phosphodiesterase, PD6, by Galpha-GTP. His lab also studies light regulation of retinal phosphoinositides using a range of techniques to manipulate gene expression or activity of enzymes of lipid metabolism in photoreceptors, along with multi-scale analysis of retinal structure, electrophysiological and behavioral measures of retinal function, and methods for quantifying and localizing specific phosphoinositides, to determine the molecular mechanisms for regulation of photoreceptor phosphoinositide levels and their roles in retinal function, health, and disease. The light-sensing outer segments of retinal rod and cone photoreceptors are specialized primary cilia, and one of the most frequent symptoms of ciliopathies is degeneration of the retina, leading to blindness. His lab also studies cilium associated structures in rod cells in a project to determine the structural basis of ciliopathies by determining with unprecedented detail and accuracy the three-dimensional architecture of the structures at the base of the outer segments most directly affected by ciliopathies.
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