Wade Van Horn
Ph.D. Chemistry, University of Utah 2007
Our research interests focus on the roles of membrane proteins in human health and disease, with a particular interest in membrane proteins with therapeutic potential. Membrane proteins, as a class, make up the majority of therapeutic targets and play essential roles in biology and pathophysiology. We investigate the structure, dynamics, and function of this class of proteins with an interdisciplinary approach synthesizing the output from multiple disparate techniques which allows us to tackle challenging yet biomedically relevant problems. Our investigations focus on the following three themes:
1) TRP channel gating and modulation. TRPM8 functions as the primary cold sensor in humans where it integrates, thermo-, chemical-, and voltage-dependencies and is modulated by other proteins and lipids. This channel has significant therapeutic potential in diverse and important diseases such as cancer, chronic pain, obesity, and diabetes. We seek to understand the mechanism of how TRPM8 integrates distinct stimuli and modulators in an effort to unlock the therapeutic potential of TRPM8.
2) Membrane protein structural enzymology. Our lab focuses on two membrane enzymes; vitamin K epoxide reductase (VKOR) and undecaprenol kinase (UDPK). VKOR is the target of the popular anticoagulant warfarin (also Coumadin?) and is one of the hallmark targets of personalized medicine. Undecaprenol kinase is a known virulence factor in gram-positive bacteria and an excellent target for narrow spectrum antibiotic development. For these enzymes we seek to understand the relationship between structure, function, and dynamics.
3) Methods Development for membrane protein structural biology. In an effort to push the boundaries of membrane protein structural biology, we are exploring the use of new, and fine-tuning existing membrane mimics that are compatible with solution NMR. Of particular interest is optimizing reverse micelles as hosts for membrane proteins which have the particular advantage of significantly increasing the size and complexity of NMR-accessible membrane targets.
To accomplish these goals, our research program relies on a number of interdisciplinary techniques including nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), electrophysiology, enzymology, and computational structural biology.
Wade Van Horn is an assistant professor in the School of Molecular Sciences and is an investigator with the Biodesign Institute's Center for Personalized Diagnostics, and the Magnetic Resonance Research Center. He joined Arizona State University in 2012 after an American Heart Association postdoctoral fellowship at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in the Department of Biochemistry and the Center for Structural Biology. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Utah's Department of Chemistry. His current interests focus on the interplay between biomolecular function and structure, especially as it relates to human physiology and pathophysiology.