Expression, Function and Modulation of Receptors and Ion Channels in the Peripheral Nervous System.
The primary areas of research interest in the laboratory of Professor David Adams are in membrane biophysics, cellular neuroscience and cardiovascular physiology using electrophysiological, molecular biological and single cell microflurometric techniques to study membrane receptors and ionic channels and calcium homeostasis. Research in the laboratory focuses on:
 the expression, function and modulation of native receptors and ionic channels in peripheral neurons, and
 the molecular mechanisms of action of marine neurotoxins on cloned receptors and ion channels expressed in Xenopus oocytes.
Specifically, the laboratory investigates conotoxins that selectively modulate receptor and ion channel function and the ionic mechanisms underlying neuronal excitability in parasympathetic ganglia using patch clamp recording techniques.
The actions of neurotransmitters on cell function and, in particular, cytoplasmic calcium levels are studied in synchrony with patch clamp recording using fluorescent calcium indicators. Neurotransmitters influence the function of a variety of ion channels and intracellular proteins in cells to alter the electrical properties and, hence, the physiological responses of the cell. The primary objective of this research is to characterise the biophysical and pharmacological properties of receptors and ion channels in parasympathetic neurons which mediate the extrinsic (vagal) and intrinsic innervation of the heart. Single cell RT-PCR is also used to determine ion channel subtypes and receptor subunit mRNA expression in individual neurons. This research is directed towards understanding the mechanisms through which a diversity of chemical signalling, both extracellular and intracellular, can act to influence the physiological functions of peripheral neurons.