Valeria Vasquez, PhD


Valeria Vasquez, PhD photoAssistant Professor
71 S. Manassas St.
Translational Research Building
Memphis, TN 38163

Phone: (901)448-7223
Email: vvasquez@uthsc.edu

Education

Licentiate Universidad Central de Venezuela, Caracas, Venezuela, 1999
Ph.D., Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics. University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA., 2008    
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Physiology, Stanford University, 2014    

Research Interests 

Mechanosensitive ion channels translate mechanical stimuli into an electrochemical signal, which ultimately leads to physiological or perceptual responses. Some of these responses in humans include touch, pain, proprioception, hearing, and blood pressure regulation. These channels do not share a common topology and so far five classes of membrane proteins have been proposed to form mechanosensitive channels in eukaryotes: the amiloride-sensitive sodium channels (DEG/ENaCs), the transient receptor potential channels (TRPs), the two-pore domain K+ channels (K2Ps), the Piezo proteins, and the transmembrane channel-like proteins (TMCs). We are particularly interested on identifying membrane lipids that regulate channel function in vivo and the mechanism by which they interact to give rise to mechano-dependent gating.

Our lab aims to understand the functional, structural, and molecular mechanism by which mechanosensitive channels respond to mechanical stimuli and help delineate a general framework for their roles in health and disease. We follow two main avenues: 1) in vitro biochemical and biophysical approaches to study protein-protein and protein-lipid interactions of bona fide mechanosensitive channel complexes, and 2) in vivo approaches to characterize mechanosensitive channels in C. elegans having novel physiological roles.

Representative Publications

  1. Vásquez, V, Cortes, D. M, Furukawa, H, & Perozo, E (2007). An optimized purification and reconstitution method for the MscS channel: strategies for spectroscopical analysis. Biochemistry 46(23): 6766–6773.
  2. Vásquez, V, Sotomayor, M, Cortes, D. M, Roux, B., Schulten, K, & Perozo, E (2008). Three-dimensional architecture of membrane-embedded MscS in the closed conformation. Journal of Molecular Biology 378(1): 55–70.
  3. Vásquez V, Sotomayor M, Cordero-Morales J.F, Schulten K, and Perozo E (2008). A structural mechanism for MscS gating in lipid bilayers. Science 321:1210-1214.
  4. Uysal, S, Vásquez, V, Tereshko, V, Esaki, K, Fellouse, F. A, Sidhu, S. S, et al. (2009). Crystal structure of full-length KcsA in its closed conformation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 106(16): 6644–6649.
  5. Vásquez V, Krieg M, Lockhead D, Goodman MB (2014). Phospholipids that contain polyunsaturated fatty acids enhance neuronal cell mechanics and touch sensation. Cell Reports 6(1): 70-80.

Additional Information