We are interested in understanding the physiological and pathological functions of Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) ion channels, lysosome ion channels, and Ca2+ signaling.
The major interest in our lab is to understand how Ca2+ flux pathways, i.e, Ca2+-pemeant channels, at the cell surface and in intracellular organelles are precisely controlled (gated) by extracellular and intracellular signals, and how this information is transduced into physiological and pathological changes at the cellular and organismal levels. We use an integrative approach with state-of-art techniques including molecular biology, bioinformatics, biochemistry, immunochemistry, electrophysiology, fluorescence imaging, confocal microscopy, and mouse genetics. A current focus is TRP channels, a large superfamily of transmembrane proteins serving as molecular/cellular sensors for a variety of physiological/pathological functions. Mucolipin TRP (TRPML) proteins encode ion channels of intracellular endosomes and lysosomes; human mutations of TRPML1 cause type IV mucolipidosis lysosome storage disease. Using TRPML knockout and transgenic mice, we are currently investigating activation mechanisms and in vivo functions of TRPML channels. Another recent focus is TRPV3, a novel Ca2+-permeable ion channel that we recently discovered and is expressed in the skin; human mutations of TRPV3 cause skin diseases. Using TRPV3 knockout and transgenic mice, we are currently studying activation mechanisms and in vivo functions of TRPV3.
Dr. Xu received his BS from Peking University (Beijing, China) and Ph.D. from Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. He was a postdoctoral fellow (HHMI) in David Clapham's laboratory at Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Xu joined the MCDB faculty in 2007 and has won multiple faculty awards including the Biological Sciences Scholar (2007; BSSP, University of Michigan), the Sloan Fellowship (2009; Alfred P. Sloan Foundation), the Presidential Early Career Award for Sciences and Engineers (2010; White House), and the Henry Russel Award (2012; University of Michigan).