Home of the Electrosome


Home of the Electrosome We run on electricity.

Bioelectricity made by ion channel proteins drives our thoughts, feelings, and actions. These complex macromolecular devices give the spark to life by controlling the passage of ions across cell membranes in nerves, muscles, and the brain. Our laboratory focuses on using functional, chemical, and structural approaches to uncover the molecular mechanisms by which diverse types of ion channels work, to develop new reagents that can manipulate ion channel function, and to understand the molecular mechanisms by which organisms resist toxins that target ion channels. We are particularly interested in ion channels that respond to physical forces and that are important in pain and sensory physiology.

Latest Publications

Structural insights into the mechanisms and pharmacology of K2P potassium channels. Natale, A.M., Deal, P.E., and Minor, D.L. Jr. Journal of Molecular Biology 433:166995 (2021)

Differential effects of modified batrachotoxins on voltage-gated sodium channel fast and slow inactivation.  MacKenzie, T.M.G., Abderemane-Ali, F., Garrison, C.E., Minor, D.L., Jr., and Du Bois, J. Cell Chemical Biology Dec 24;S2451-9456(21)00517-1 (2021)

Evidence that toxin resistance in poison birds and frogs is not rooted in sodium channel mutations and relies on ‘toxin sponge’ proteins. Abderemane-Ali, F., Rossen, N.D., Kobiela, M.E., Craig, R.A.II, Garrison, C.E., Chen, Z., O'Connell, L.A., Du Bois, J., Dumbacher, J.P., and Minor, D.L., Jr. J. Gen. Physiol  153:e202112872 (2021)

K2P channel C-type gating involves asymmetric selectivity filter order-disorder transitions. Lolicato, M., Natale, A.M., Abderemane-Ali, F., Crottes, D., Capponi, S., Duman, R. Wagner, A., Rosenberg, J.M., Grabe, M., Minor, D.L. Jr., Science Advances 6 eabc9174 (2020)

Polynuclear Ruthenium Amines Inhibit K2P Channels via a "Finger in the Dam" Mechanism. Pope, L., Lolicato, M., Minor, D.L. Jr., Cell Chemical Biology   27, 511-524 (2020)

Structure of the saxiphilin:saxitoxin (STX)complex reveals a convergent molecular recognition strategy for paralytic toxins. Yen, T.-J., Lolicato, M., Thomas-Tran, R., Du Bois, J., and Minor, D.L. Jr., Science Advances 5 eaax2650 (2019) View Press

SARAF luminal domain structure reveals a novel domain-swapped β-sandwich fold important for SOCE modulation. Kimberlin, C.R.,Meshcheriakova, A., Palty, R., Karbat, I., Reuveny, E., and Minor, D.L. Jr. Journal of Molecular Biology 431 2869-2883 (2019)

A selectivity filter gate controls voltage gated calcium channel (CaV) calcium-dependent inactivation. Abderemane-Ali, F., Findeisen, F., Rossen, N.D., and Minor, D.L. Jr., Neuron 101 1134-1149 (2019)

Journal of Molecular Biology
Minor Lab Covers


Our lab employs a range of biochemical, biophysical, structural, and chemical biology approaches to examine the molecular structures and functions of various classes of ion channels including members of the voltage-gated potassium, voltage-gated calcium, voltage-gated sodium, and K2P channel families. Our research relies heavily on X-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy, isothermal titration calorimetry, circular dichroism, and other biophysical methods. Because ion channel structure is intimately tied to function, an equally crucial part of our efforts implements structure-based tests of ion channel function using electrophysiological recordings in live cells.
Because most channels suffer from poor pharmacological profiles that limit the ability to connect ion channel genes with their physiological functions, our lab also has a strong effort to develop novel ion channel modulators. The development of new selective inhibitors and activators of channel function should provide new tools for ion channel research and may lead to the development of novel, ion channel directed pharmaceuticals.

Ion channels are the targets of many naturally occurring small molecule toxins such as saxitoxin (STX), the paralytic agent produced by oceanic ‘red tide’ blooms. The mechanisms by which animals that carry or regularly encounter such toxins resist poisoning remain poorly understood. In parallel with our interest in ion channels, we seek to uncover the molecular mechanisms of toxin resistance conferred by toxin binding proteins that act as ‘molecular sponges’ that neutralize the toxin such as STX by sequestration. Understanding the basic rules for how proteins recognize STX and other toxins should aid in the development of new means to detect and neutralize such toxins.  



The Minor lab is located in the Smith Cardiovascular Research Building at the UCSF Mission Bay Campus in San Francisco. If you are interested in joining us, please see here.

Affiliate UCSF Graduate Programs