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Sahu scientific proposal selected

Dr. Indra Sahu

By Elinor Keck, student news writer, Office of University Communications

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Dr. Indra Dev Sahu, assistant professor of physics at Campbellsville University, had his research proposal selected for full funding by the Kentucky Academy of Science (KAS) Grants and Awards Committee.

His proposal, titled “Effect of the Mutations on the Structural Dynamics of Potassium Channel Modulating Protein KCNE3,” involves studying the structure and properties of the potassium channel accessory protein KCNE3 using electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy. EPR is a method for studying materials that have unpaired electrons.

Sahu explained that KCNE3 is associated with several health issues, including long QT syndrome. Long QT syndrome is a heart-signaling disorder that can cause fast, chaotic heartbeats. Sahu will investigate the effect of the interaction-impairing mutants on the structure and dynamic properties of KCNE3.

Sahu said that the project is significant because KCNE3 forms a complex with the potassium channel protein KCNQ1. A complex is a collection of proteins that interact with each other at the same time and location. This complex is important to the function of KCNQ1 during channel gating, which is the opening or closing of ion channels. Certain mutations in KCNE3 weaken the interaction of KCNE3 with KCNQ1.

“It is important to understand the effect of the interaction-impairing mutations on the structure and dynamic properties of KCNE3 to fully understand the function of the KCNE3 during potassium channel gating,” Sahu said. “The output of this project will help us to better understand the functions of the heart and we can improve our understanding of heart conditions and other KCNE3-related diseases.”

To test his hypothesis, Sahu is using molecular biology techniques to prepare the KCNE3 samples and obtain structure and dynamic information using EPR experiments. He is also using molecular dynamics computer simulation approaches to understand the properties of KCNE3 in different membrane environments.

Sahu explained how Campbellsville University would play a significant role in the project. Undergraduate students will be involved in membrane protein research and will use molecular biology techniques to prepare the KCNE3 samples and collect experimental data on EPR instruments. In addition, students will use molecular dynamics modeling to study KCNE3 proteins. At the conclusion of the project, CU students will present the results at national and international scientific conferences and publish the papers in scientific journals.

“Hence, CU undergraduate students will receive important research training to prepare them as young scientists,” Sahu said. “The CU undergraduate education quality will be enhanced.”

“We are very thankful to Kentucky Academic Science (KAS) for continuously supporting our undergraduate research projects at Campbellsville University,” Sahu continued. “Our students have been working very sincerely to accomplish the goals of the ongoing research projects. We are trying our best to provide a great education, including groundbreaking research experiences to our undergraduate students.”

KAS awarded $5,000 to support this research being conducted over the next year. At the end of the year, a final activity report will be due at the end of the project period.

Sahu received his Bachelor of Science in physics in 1999 and his Master of Science in biomedical physics in 2002, both from Tribhuvan University in Nepal. He received a second Master of Science in physics in 2007 and a Doctor of Philosophy in biomedical physics in 2009, both from SUNY-Albany. From 2010 to 2013, he continued his postdoctoral research at Miami University in Ohio, where he has also held the positions of research scientist, visiting faculty, and adjunct assistant professor.

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