The Hibbs lab is pursuing atomic-scale mechanisms of synaptic proteins, with a current focus on ligand-gated ion channel structure and function. The lab is fascinated by how these complex molecules respond to binding of a small chemical neurotransmitter by triggering the opening of an intrinsic ion conduction pathway >50 Å away. This conformational conversion allows for diffusion-limited rates of ion flux and occurs on the millisecond timescale. The lab further seeks to probe mechanisms of ion selectivity and allosteric modulation, with a long term goal of better informing rational therapeutic design for neurological disorders and addiction. It employs a multidisciplinary approach encompassing molecular biology, protein biochemistry, pharmacology, x-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy and electrophysiology. Recent work from the lab has explored structural biology of heteromeric nicotinic receptors and GABAA receptors both by crystallographic and cryo-EM approaches.
Sources: https://profiles.utsouthwestern.edu/profile/133655/ryan-hibbs.html; https://www.utsouthwestern.edu/labs/hibbs/