Theres Friesacher

Supervisor: Anna Weinzinger, University of Vienna

Co-Supervisor: Leticia González, University of Vienna


Start of the project: 01.06.2020

Title of the project: In silico investigation of ion channels in connection with rare diseases

Research topic of the student:  

G protein-coupled inward-rectifier potassium channels (GIRK2) are essential regulators of neuronal excitability. They belong to the family of inward-rectifier potassium (Kir) channels, which are generally activated by phosphatidylinositol-4,5- bisphosphate (PIP2). Importantly, GIRKs are unique among Kir channels in that they are regulated by the G-protein βγ (Gβγ) subunit. Additional mediators include Na+, ions and alcohol. Mutations in or close to the selectivity filter of GIRK2 lead to a rare neurological condition called the Keppen-Lubinsky syndrome (KPLBS).

During my PhD, I will use classical and coarse-grained MD simulations to look into the allosteric mechanism underlying GIRK2 channel regulation by Gβγ. Furthermore, I will investigate the consequences of KPLBS inducing GIRK2 mutations in the context of selectivity and channel dynamics. Last but not least, I will explore possible ways for treating KPLBS symptoms and other diseases associated with a malfunctioning of GIRK channels.

Lab Rotation Project: "Insight into quantum mechanical methods", 09.01.-28.01.2022

Lab Host: Leticia González, University of Vienna

Internship abroad I: "Investigating GIRK2 channel inhibition by Ethosuximide", 05.03.2022 - 16.04.2022

Host Lab: Department of Physiology and Pharmacology; Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, ISR

Internship abroad II: "Investigating Ethosuximide binding to GIRK", 10.04.-30.05.2023

Host Lab: Max Planck-Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, Germany

Link to publications by Theres Friesacher

Recipient of an OeAW DOC Fellowship (05/2021)

Theres Friesacher has been elected as Student Representative from 03/2021 to 02/2022.