Harley Kurata is an assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology, and Therapeutics at the University of British Columbia. His research is funded by grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. He is a Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada New Investigator and a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar.
Reseach in Kurata’s lab revolves around a class of proteins that generate electrical activity in cells. These proteins, called ion channels, form tiny selective pores in cell membranes that conduct specific charged ions (like sodium or potassium) and affect the membrane voltage. Electrical events underlie many moment-to-moment activities that we all take for granted: beating of the heart, controlled movements, hormone secretion, and sensory perception, are just a few examples. Current research involves a type of ion channel that responds to cellular metabolism. These channels control insulin secretion from the pancreas, and identification of mutations in these channels has led to a new approach to treat neonatal diabetes. The same class of ion channel has a major impact on how the heart responds to metabolic stresses that might happen during a heart attack.
Kurata HT, Akrouh A, Li JB, Marton LJ, Nichols CG. Scanning the topography of polyamine blocker binding in an inwardly rectifying potassium channel. J Biol Chem. 2013 Mar 1;288(9):6591-601. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.383794. Epub 2013 Jan 8. (PubMed abstract)
Khurana A, Shao ES, Kim RY, Vilin YY, Huang X, Yang R, Kurata HT. Forced gating motions by a substituted titratable side chain at the bundle crossing of a potassium channel. J Biol Chem. 2011 Oct 21;286(42):36686-93. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.249110. Epub 2011 Aug 30. (PubMed abstract)
Kurata HT, Zhu EA, Nichols CG. Locale and chemistry of spermine binding in the archetypal inward rectifier Kir2.1. J Gen Physiol. 2010 May;135(5):495-508. doi: 10.1085/jgp.200910253. (PubMed abstract)
Kurata HT, Rapedius M, Kleinman MJ, Baukrowitz T, Nichols CG. Voltage-dependent gating in a “voltage sensor-less” ion channel. PLoS Biol. 2010 Feb 23;8(2):e1000315. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000315. (PubMed abstract)
Remedi MS, Kurata HT, Scott A, Wunderlich FT, Rother E, Kleinridders A, Tong A, Brüning JC, Koster JC, Nichols CG. Secondary consequences of beta cell inexcitability: identification and prevention in a murine model of K(ATP)-induced neonatal diabetes mellitus. Cell Metab. 2009 Feb;9(2):140-51. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2008.12.005. (PubMed abstract)