Dr. Wandi Zhu

Graduate Student

Wandi joined the lab in 2014. She studies how Nav β subunits alter Na+ channel functions.

Voltage-gated Na+ channels cause the initiation and propagation of the action potential by conducting a large and rapid Na+ influx upon cell membrane is depolarization. In cells, Na+ channel are formed by a macromolecular complex with many regulatory proteins, which modify channel kinetics to tailor its function to specific cell types. Her project focuses on discovering the molecular mechanisms used by these molecules to regulate the Na+ channel.  To accomplish this, she uses a method known as voltage clamp fluorometry, which allows us to fluorescently track channel molecular motions simultaneously with ionic current through the channel. With this method, she characterizes how subunits alter channel molecular motions to modify current kinetics, pathology, and pharmacology. In combination with action potential recordings from human iPSC cardiomyocytes, she can define a multiscale system of how β subunits regulate channel at molecular level to alter cellular functions. Using these data, she will create a computational model that recapitulates the molecular aspects of subunit regulation of Na+ current and predict its impact on the ability of the heart to initiate and sustain arrhythmia.