Research in Dr. Naren's laboratory focuses on defining the role of Macromolecular complexes in regulating the functions of the Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator (CFTR), which is a cAMP activated chloride channel present on the apical surfaces of epithelial cells. CFTR is responsible for salt and water transport across epithelium, and dysfunctions of CFTR are responsible for several diseases, including cystic fibrosis (CF) and secretory diarrhea. In CF the synthesis or the functional activity of the CFTR Cl- channel is reduced. This lethal, autosomal recessive disorder affects approximately 1 in 2,500 Caucasians in the USA. Excessive CFTR activity is implicated in cases of toxin-induced secretory diarrhea (e.g., by cholera toxin and heat stable E. coli enterotoxin) that stimulate cAMP production in the gut.
Although Dr. Naren's laboratory works on several interrelated projects, the main projects they are currently focusing on are: 1. Macromolecular complex of CFTR regulates tracheal secretion. 2. CFTR-dependent protein interactions regulate secretory diarrhea. 3. To identify small organic molecules that augment or inhibit CFTR function by perturbing CFTR-dependent protein interactions. The laboratories research involves several complimentary approaches in understanding protein-protein interactions in vitro (tissue culture) and in vivo (CF-knock out mouse model). Techniques such as two electrode voltage clamping (TEVC), Ussing Chamber, Iodide efflux measurements, FRET-imaging, Single Particle Tracking (SPT), molecular biology (cloning), protein purification and protein binding assays are some of the methods currently used to address studies listed above.