Research News

13 Oct 2017

The Mechanobiology of Ion Channels:  May the Force Be with You! 6 November 2017

HKU-Pasteur Research Pole and the State Key Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at HKU are please to invite you to attend a seminar given by Éric Honoré, from the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, French National Centre for Scientific Research/CNRS (Valbonne, Sophia Antipolis, France).

Date/Time: 11:30 am, Monday, 6th November 2017
Venue: Room 7-03, 7th Floor, HKJC Building for Inter-Disciplinary Research, 5 Sassoon Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong



Opening of stretch-activated ion channels (SACs) is the earliest event occurring in mechanosensory transduction. The molecular identity of mammalian SACs has long remained a mystery. Only very recently, Piezo1 and Piezo2 were shown to be essential components of distinct SACs and moreover, purified Piezo1 forms non-selective cationic channels (i.e. permeable to sodium, potassium and calcium) when reconstituted into artificial bilayers. Human mutations in Piezo1/2 are associated with a variety of disease states, including xerocytosis, lymphatic dysplasia, arthrogryposis and muscle contracture. In addition, the 3D structures of mechanosensitive two-pore domain potassium channels (K2P) TREK1/2-TRAAK (i.e. selective for potassium), as well as Piezo1, have recently been solved, providing valuable information about selectivity and gating mechanisms of SACs. These recent studies allow a better understanding of the molecular basis of cellular mechanotransduction. I will review these new “exciting” findings, which hopefully will pave the road for the identification of novel therapeutic strategies.

Keywords: Electrophysiology; Mechanosensation; Mechanotransduction; Piezo1; TREK-1

Éric Honoré started his own group at the IPMC in 2005, focusing on polycystic kidney disease and associated arterial anomalies. His most recent work concerns the role of mechanosensitive ion channels in renovascular physiopathology, with a special focus on Piezo1. The group has demonstrated that opening of Piezo1 contributes to the arterial remodelling of small diameter arteries upon hypertension. The objective of the team is now to investigate the mechanobiology of adipose cells in the context of obesity.

11 Oct 2017

Milieu Intérieur: defining the boundaries of a healthy immune response for a better understanding of disease, 24 October 2017

HKU-Pasteur Research Pole is pleased to welcome Darragh Duffy on October 24th, 2017.

Darragh is one of the scientific manager of the LabEx Milieu Interieur project at Institut Pasteur, Paris. The goal of this project is to understand the genetic and environmental determinants of a healthy immune response, and apply these findings to disease settings to develop new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.

Join us and learn more about the Milieu Interieur project by attending Darragh Duffy's seminar.

Darragh DUFFY, Ph.D
The Milieu Intérieur Consortium
Institut Pasteur, France

Date/Time: 11:30 am, Tuesday, 24th October 2017
Venue: Mrs Chen Yang Foo Oi Telemedicine Centre
2nd Floor, William Mong Block
Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine



Susceptibility to infections, disease severity, and response to vaccines are highly variable from one individual to another. Medical practices and public health policies typically take a ‘one size fits all’ model for disease management and vaccine development. This approach ignores individual heterogeneity in immune responses that likely impacts the response to therapy or the efficiency and development of side effects secondary to vaccine or treatment administration. Due to the complexity of immune responses at the individual and population level, it has been challenging thus far to define the borders of a healthy immune system as well as the parameters (genetic, epigenetic, and environmental) that drive its naturally-occurring variability. In particular, such assessments require large sample sizes, consensus for defining “healthy”, and standardized protocols for sample recruitment. In this context, the Milieu Intérieur Consortium initiated in September 2012 a cross-sectional healthy population-based study of 1,000 healthy volunteers, split equally by sex (1:1 sex ratio) and stratified across five-decades of life. The overall aim of the Milieu Intérieur study is to assess the factors underlying immunological variance within the general healthy population. The primary objective is to define genetic and environmental factors that contribute to the observed heterogeneity in immune responses. This is being realized through the characterization and integration of (i) lifestyle and medical history (ii) genome-wide SNP genotyping and whole-exome sequencing (iii) metagenomic diversity based on sequence analysis of bacterial, fungal and viral populations in fecal and nasal samples; (iv) induced transcriptional and protein signatures by whole microbes, microbial-associated molecular pattern (MAMP) agonists, medically relevant cytokines, or stimulators of the T cell response; and (v) variability in levels of circulating immune cell populations based on flow cytometry. In parallel a number of disease specific studies lead by consortium members have been initiated. Finally to understand our findings in a global context we have recently initiated a pilot study on healthy donors with Institut Pasteur Senegal, and are planning studies in Asian populations. These results will lay the foundations for a better understanding of immune response variability helping to support new precision vaccination strategies.

06 Oct 2017

[Call for applications] Croucher foundation scholarships and fellowships

Please visit the Croucher Foundation's website for more details.