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Discovering New Zinc Permeable Ion Channels

Zinc is crucial to all living organisms as well as the second most abundant element in the environment.  Zinc has been found to carry out many essential functions in the body and biological processes—ultimately, it functions as a signaling molecule for intercellular and intracellular processes including catalytic and structural pathways. Homeostasis of zinc is important to understanding how the molecule goes about physiological and pathological functions as it is strictly regulated in all aspects of the body from the cellular level up.  Using the Qin lab’s GZnP3 sensor, zinc can be recorded in nanomolar ranges, offering a better understanding of which ion channels are truly permeable or not.  Here, the TRP family is tested using a baseline, zinc addition, and agonist to supposedly open up the ion channels for zinc to flow through.  This has proved successful in many of the Trp channels explored and can lead to future work, include following zinc through homeostasis to understand the mechanisms behind it.