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Valeria Vasquez, PhD

Assistant Professor

Translational Research Building
71 S. Manassas Street
Memphis, TN 38163

Phone: 901.448.7223
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

  • Vásquez V. Using C. elegans to Study the Effects of Toxins in Sensory Ion Channels In Vivo. Methods Mol Biol. 2020;2068:225-238. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-9845-6_12. PubMed PMID: 31576531.
  • Romero LO, Massey AE, Mata-Daboin AD, Sierra-Valdez FJ, Chauhan SC, Cordero-Morales JF, Vásquez V. Dietary fatty acids fine-tune Piezo1 mechanical response. Nat Commun. 2019 Mar 13;10(1):1200. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-09055-7. PubMed PMID: 30867417; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6416271.
  • Geron M, Kumar R, Zhou W, Faraldo-Gómez JD, Vásquez V, Priel A. TRPV1 pore turret dictates distinct DkTx and capsaicin gating. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Dec 11;115(50):E11837-E11846. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1809662115. Epub 2018 Nov 21. PubMed PMID: 30463948; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6294906.
  • Sierra-Valdez FJ, Stein RA, Velissety P, Vasquez V, Cordero-Morales JF. Purification and Reconstitution of TRPV1 for Spectroscopic Analysis. J Vis Exp. 2018 Jul 3;(137). doi: 10.3791/57796. PubMed PMID: 30035769; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6102038.
  • Cordero-Morales JF, Vásquez V. How lipids contribute to ion channel function, a fat perspective on direct and indirect interactions. Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2018 Aug;51:92-98. doi: 10.1016/j.sbi.2018.03.015. Epub 2018 Mar 28. Review. PubMed PMID: 29602157; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6162190.
  • Caires R, Sierra-Valdez FJ, Millet JRM, Herwig JD, Roan E, Vásquez V, Cordero-Morales JF. Omega-3 Fatty Acids Modulate TRPV4 Function through Plasma Membrane Remodeling. Cell Rep. 2017 Oct 3;21(1):246-258. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.09.029. PubMed PMID: 28978477.

Additional Information 

Last Published: Oct 7, 2019