Lily Jan, PhD

Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator
Department of Physiology
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics
+1 415 476-8748

Potassium channels regulate neuronal signaling, control the flow of salt across epithelia, heart rate, vascular tone, and the release of hormones such as insulin, and protect neurons and muscles under metabolic stress. In order to study potassium channels, we have chosen to isolate individual potassium channel genes so that the channels they give rise to can be studied one at a time, and then compared with potassium channels in native tissues. We have recently extended our studies to the cloning and characterization of calcium-activated chloride channels with wide distribution and diverse physiological functions.

Thus our channel studies were initiated by positional cloning of the Shaker voltage-gated potassium (Kv) channel gene in the fruit fly and expression cloning of inwardly rectifying potassium (Kir) channels - founding members of two large, distantly related families of potassium channels - as well as expression cloning of calcium-activated chloride channel (CaCC) of a novel ion channel family. Mutations of potassium channels in the Kv and Kir families cause diseases of the brain (epilepsy, episodic ataxia), ear (deafness), kidney (hypertension), pancreas (hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia of infancy), heart (arrhythmia), skeletal muscle (periodic paralysis), as well as developmental abnormalities of neural crest-derived tissues (Andersen's syndrome). Understandably, potassium channel openers and blockers have been developed for pharmaceutical purposes. Likewise, CaCC blockers may reduce hypertension whereas CaCC enhancement has been considered as potential treatment for cystic fibrosis and other pulmonary diseases including asthma.  A better understanding of the function of these channels will therefore not only satisfy our curiosity, it will have clinical significance. We are currently taking a range of experimental approaches - electrophysiological, cell biological, biochemical and genetic - to examine the physiological functions of potassium channels and calcium-activated chloride channels.

Primary Thematic Area: 
Secondary Thematic Area: 
Vascular & Cardiac Biology
Research Summary: 
Potassium Channels



TAOK2 Kinase Mediates PSD95 Stability and Dendritic Spine Maturation through Septin7 Phosphorylation.


Yadav S, Oses-Prieto JA, Peters CJ, Zhou J, Pleasure SJ, Burlingame AL, Jan LY, Jan YN

A Defensive Kicking Behavior in Response to Mechanical Stimuli Mediated by Drosophila Wing Margin Bristles.

The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

Li J, Zhang W, Guo Z, Wu S, Jan LY, Jan YN

In vivo dendrite regeneration after injury is different from dendrite development.

Genes & development

Thompson-Peer KL, DeVault L, Li T, Jan LY, Jan YN

Transmembrane channel-like (tmc) gene regulates Drosophila larval locomotion.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Guo Y, Wang Y, Zhang W, Meltzer S, Zanini D, Yu Y, Li J, Cheng T, Guo Z, Wang Q, Jacobs JS, Sharma Y, Eberl DF, Göpfert MC, Jan LY, Jan YN, Wang Z