Julio Cordero-Morales, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Physiology in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), has been awarded $1,520,000 to study the molecular basis by which dietary fatty acids -- such as omega-3 and omega-6 -- regulate the function of membrane proteins present in the vascular system, called transient receptor potential channels (TRP channels).
Awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the grant paves the way for five years of funding to continue Cordero-Morales' research project entitled, "The Role of Bioactive Lipids in Transient Receptor Potential Channels Gating."
In preliminary research using Caenorhabditis elegans, an animal model that can be genetically deprived of fatty acids, Cordero-Morales and his team discovered that a class of omega-3 fatty acids played important roles in protein function. "Once we discovered that omega-3 fatty acids were important, we moved to the second phase and studied the effect of fatty acids on TRPV4 channels present in human vascular endothelial cells." Understanding the mechanism by which fatty acids regulate TRPV4 in these cells is key in generating novel therapeutics strategies to target this protein.