KCNQ Channels In RTN Chemoreceptors
Seizure-induced respiratory (breathing) dysfunction is thought to contribute to Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP). The KCNQ family of potassium channels are important determinants of neuronal excitability, and mutations in KCNQ genes can lead to pediatric epilepsy and SUDEP. Drs. Mulkey and Tzingounis hypothesize that KCNQ channels are required for proper control of chemoreceptor activity (i.e., neurons that drive breathing). They propose that disruption of KCNQ channel activity creates a background of respiratory problems that may worsen during seizures and contribute to SUDEP. They will investigate contributions of KCNQ channels to the firing behavior of chemoreceptor neurons. Understanding the role of KCNQ channels in regulating chemoreceptor activity may lay the foundation for the development of new treatments and diagnostic tests to identify individuals at risk for SUDEP.