Dr. daCosta examines structure-function relationships in a class of proteins called ligand-gated ion channels, which are ion-conducting pores embedded in cell membranes. Evolved to convert chemical signals into electrical impulses, ligand-gated ion channels mediate fundamental physiological processes, are implicated in numerous human diseases, and are the targets of a wide variety of drugs. Dr. daCosta seeks to both control ligand-gated ion channel function with chemistry, and to engineer ligand-gated ion channels with unique and useful properties.
- Derepression may masquerade as activation in ligand-gated ion channels. Tessier CJG, Emlaw JR, Sturgeon RM, daCosta CJB. Nature Communications. 2023 Apr 5;14(1):1907. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-36770-z.
- Ancestral acetylcholine receptor β-subunit forms homopentamers that prime before opening spontaneously. Tessier CJG, Sturgeon RM, Emlaw JR, McCluskey GD, Pérez-Areales FJ, daCosta CJB. eLife. 2022 Jul 4;11:e76504. doi: 10.7554/eLife.76504.
- A single historical substitution drives an increase in acetylcholine receptor complexity. Emlaw JR, Tessier CJG, McCluskey GD, McNulty MS, Sheikh Y, Burkett KM, Musgaard M, daCosta CJB. PNAS. 2021 Feb 16;118(7):e2018731118. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2018731118.
- Ancestral Reconstruction Approach to Acetylcholine Receptor Structure and Function. Prinston JE, Emlaw JR, Dextraze MF, Tessier CJG, Pérez-Areales FJ, McNulty MS, daCosta CJB. Structure. 2017 Aug 1;25(8):1295-1302.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.str.2017.06.005.