The goal of this project is to control signalling in the mammalian nervous system with ‘hi-jacked’ microbial receptor proteins. We will first compile a comprehensive library of microbial ligand-gated ion channels (m-LGICs), and we will then characterize the function of selected m-LGICs in molecular detail. In order to exploit the technological potential of m-LGICs, we will employ them to control signalling in a model of epilepsy. This project provides the first systematic characterization of m-LGIC diversity and the first application thereof for the re-engineering of biological systems. It will develop the orthogonal manipulation of neuronal electrical signals with potential for treating neurological diseases. It will also open the door to new agents that target microbes threatening health and agriculture. The applicant Harald Janovjak from the University of California Berkeley has taken up a five-year post at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria. He will receive project support, mentoring and career development to build up an independent research group, supervise students and maintain international collaborations. His background brings new research opportunities to Europe and seamlessly integrates with research at the host institution.
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