Mee Jung Ko

Mee Jung Ko Profile Picture

Molecular mechanisms of receptor signaling in the modulation of anxiety, conditioned fear and pain

Contact Info: 

Training Group(s):
Integrative Neuroscience

Current Research Interests:

Dr. van Rijn’s lab is investigating molecular mechanisms of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) linked to various neuropsychiatric/neurological disorders. My research, in particular, focuses on intracellular signaling pathways of a novel target, δ-opioid receptor (δOR), that has been suggested to modulate emotional behaviors. As a GPCR, δOR has two distinctive signaling pathways: G-protein and β-arrestin pathways. By incorporating interdisciplinary approaches, my research identified that β-arrestin pathways in distinct brain regions of mice can mediate the anxiolytic-like effects of δOR. Furthermore, I am also interested in developing preclinical tools for chronic pain syndrome by targeting the Transient Receptor Potential A1 (TRPA1) ion channels. The TRPA1 channels are a relatively new therapeutic target for chronic pain syndrome. My research characterized the strengths and limitations of utilizing TRPA1 channel-mediated locomotor in zebrafish as a potential screening tool for novel analgesics. The final goal of my research is to understand the spatiotemporal dynamics of the receptor/channel signaling in various behavioral phenotypes to develop better therapeutics for neuropsychiatric/neurological disorders.

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