Calcium ions in the human body serve as second messengers and are responsible for cell homeostasis. Muscle contractions and neuronal communication are supported by electrical activity. Voltage-activated calcium channels are crucial for many cellular events. They play an important role in transducing the initial stimulus to the effector systems that modulate insulin secretion in pancreatic cells or neurotransmitter at nerve terminals. Dysfunction of these processes may cause many conditions, including diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease. In recent years the amount of research on Ca2+ channels has markedly increased, but there are limitations related to physical restrictions in the spatial resolution of fluorescence microscopy. This phenomenon results in a loss of information with regard to the true location of a point source that is emitting light. Newly developed methods such as Stimulated Emission Depletion Microscopy (STED) or Photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM) allow imaging close to the molecular scale.
I will talk about my project which is focused on understanding the mechanism of action and distribution of N-type calcium channels by using novel microscopy tools I have helped to develop for calcium channel imaging.