Teresa Giraldez Winner of an ERC Consolidator Grant
Teresa Giráldez, from the Medical School and Center for Biomedical Research of the Canary Islands – CIBICAN, La Laguna University, SBE member and awardee of 2011 edition of the SBE-40 Prize, has won a 2014 ERC Consolidator Grant.
In the latest ERC Consolidator Grant competition (2014 call), a total of 372 researchers are being funded, out of 2528 submitted proposals. Among the successful projects, 32 will be developed in Spain.
The ERC grants are targeted at top researchers of any nationality based in, or willing to move to Europe.
Teresa Giraldez is a “Ramón y Cajal” scientist and Lecturer in La Laguna University (Dept. Biomedical Sciences, section Physiology, Medical School / Center for Biomedical Research of the Canary Islands – CIBICAN, Tenerife, Spain). Her laboratory combines a large variety of Biophysics and Molecular Biology techniques to study the molecular and structural mechanisms implicated in function and regulation of ion channels like ENaC (epithelial sodium channel) Kv7 (M-current) and BK (Ca- and voltage-regulated potassium channel), and their relation with neurological diseases.
The funded project, NANOPDICS, ambitions to study the tight coupling of sites of Ca2+ influx and Ca2+ sensors, found in neurons within 20-50 nm “Ca2+ nanodomains”. Such a tight coupling is crucial for the functional properties of synapses and neuronal excitability. The subcelular localization of BK channles and their role in Ca2+ nanodomains make them perfect candidates as reporters of local changes in [Ca2+], restricted to specific nanodomains close to the neuronal membrane.
Using a combination of genetics, electrophysiology and spectroscopy, our group has measured for the first time structural rearrangements accompanying whole BK channel activation at the membrane. From this unique position, our first goal is to fully determine the real time structural dynamics underlying the molecular coupling of Ca2+, voltage and activation of BK channels in the membrane environment, its regulation by accessory subunits and channel effectors (Teresa Giráldez says).
Dr. Giraldez’s laboratory has created fluorescent variants of the channel that report BK activity induced by Ca2+ binding, or Ca2+ binding and voltage. A second aim in the proposal is to optimize and deploy these novel optoelectrical reporters to study physiologically relevant Ca2+-induced processes both in cellular and animal models.