Our research is directed toward an understanding of the mechanisms involved in neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. Currently, we are examining novel post-translation modifications and signaling pathways for serotonin receptors. Serotonin receptor signaling is targeted by a number of drugs used to treat mood disorders such as depression and anxiety and psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia. For example, we recently found that serotonin 1A receptors are SUMOylated and that the SUMOylated receptor is not able to bind to serotonin ligands. We also found a novel estrogen receptor system GPER1 modifies serotonin receptor signaling and is a potential target for the treatment of depression and other mood disorders associated with the onset of menopause.
Research is also directed toward finding new targets for drug development for neurodegenerative diseases. For example, we were recently funded to identify biological probes that disrupt the abnormal interaction of mutant huntingtin protein. The long-term goal is to produce biological probes for possible future drug development to prevent the progressive neurodegeneration in Huntington’s disease.