Effect of altering the gene of ion channels in the brain stem on mice’s breathing patterns

Research has shown that rhythmic neurons depend on a particular class of sodium ion channels called NaV 1.6. Via an RNA sequence study in collaboration with Professor Saha, Dr. Del Negro’s lab was able to find out that the NaV 1.6 genes, Scn8a, which is highly expressed in the respiratory rhythmogenic core neurons (called “Dbx1 neurons” for their genetic origins) in the pre-Bötzinger complex (preBötC) in the lower brain stem. Therefore, we can genetically manipulate Scn8a (NaV 1.6 gene) and test whether those bursting-pacemaker neurons are important for breathing in mice, which is relevant and critical to human breathing and is relevant to the treatment and prevention of breathing disorders.

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