My laboratory studies the molecular mechanisms by which integrins protein complexes influence cell function and behavior. Integrins coordinate cell surface receptors, neurotransmitter transporters and intracellular signaling proteins in a tissue-dependent manner. Therefore, first we need to figure out which signaling networks and proteins are modulated by integrins. We focus on the discovery and characterization of protein-protein interactions through biochemical and proteomic approaches. These findings are then taken to the whole animal, where we generate genetically modified mice or disrupt the protein complexes by pharmacological manipulation and measure the outcome in behavioral studies.
Human polymorphisms in integrin genes are associated with cancer, blood clotting and neuropsychiatric disorders. Some complexes studied in my laboratory are conserved in several cell types, including neurons and platelets and therefore I study several cell types. This conservation also suggests that these proteins may influence risk for co-morbidity between cardiovascular and mood disorders.