Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors




Neuronal R-type Ca2+ channels (Cav2.3) are expressed at high concentrations within the cortex, hippocampus and striatal regions of the brain, where they participate in neuronal excitability and synaptic signaling. This pattern of expression may signify a connection between Cav2.3 channel function and neurological disorders such as Parkinson's Disease (PD) and Huntington's Disease (HD). Both of these disorders are caused by inadequate secretion of the neurotransmitter dopamine within the striatum. The first step in characterizing the potential importance of Cav2.3 in PD and HD is to examine its modulation by G-protein-coupled dopamine receptors. Specifically, we aim to characterize modulation of Cav2.3 by dopamine 1 (D1) and dopamine 2 (D2) receptors functioning as obligate heterodimers. The initial phase of the project involves the construction, using molecular biological techniques, of mutant D1 and D2 receptors that will form obligate heterodimers. The project will culminate with expression of the obligate heterodimers in a mammalian cell line, and whole-cell patch-clamp recordings of Cav2.3 current modulation.



Faculty Mentor

Brett Adams

Departmental Honors Advisor

Kim Sullivan