Mechanically-Activated Ion Channels and Mechanotransduction in Musculoskeletal cells
Mechanotransduction is an essential physiological process in sensations of touch and pain, as well as nonneural sensing that occurs in endothelial, cardiac, and musculoskeletal cells. The mechanotransduction process is known to play a critical role in the development, maintenance, degeneration, and regeneration of tissues. In recent years, more evidence has shown that the defects in mechanotransduction are directly associated with various human diseases, including muscular dystrophies, cardiomyopathies, and osteoarthritis. Prognosis and therapeutic intervention of these human diseases are desperately needed, and the dysregulated mechanotransduction signaling pathway could be a potential diagnostic and therapeutic target for these human diseases.
The Lee Lab studies the mechanically activated ion channels expressed in knee joint cells to gain fundamental insights into mechanotransduction-related tissue development, maintenance, and degeneration. We investigate the mechanotransduction mechanisms of chondrocytes, synoviocytes, ligament cells, joint-innervating neurons and chondrogenic stem cells in both physiologic and pathophysiologic conditions. Our overarching goal is to deconstruct the function of key mechanotransducing ion channels of musculoskeletal cells and to and apply this knowledge to find rational therapeutic drugs which can stop the progression of osteoarthritis, stop the arthritis associated pain and/or regenerate healthy cartilage.