The Center for NeuroMetallomics

with metals on our minds  ...  The KayLab

The Lab ... 

Dept. Biological Sciences  >                                University of Iowa >                                          Iowa City, IA52242                                              319.335.1172

    Just as metals provide the structure necessary to build skyscrapers, so do metals form an indispensable component of cells. Without the added zing that metals provide, proteins would be so many decorative molecular curlicues. It is fair to say that life would simply not be possible without the spice of particular inorganic elements albeit a dash.

     It has been known for quite a while that  the synaptic vesicles of certain glutamatergic pathways contain remarkably high concentrations of zinc. The zinc in these vesicles unlike most of the zinc in the cell is not tightly bound but appears to be only in weak association with other molecules. The precise role of this synaptic zinc has served to tantalize neurobiologists for a number of years but has not as yet yielded up its full secret.

     Our primary interest is in defining the role of synaptic zinc in both normal and pathological physiology. Towards this end we bring to bear a number of techniques on whole brains, slices, isolated neurons and Xenopus oocytes; fluorimetric imaging, electrophysiology, fluorescence spectroscopy and nanochemistry. *