Kenneth J. Kellar

Professor of Pharmacology

Ph.D., Pharmacology
The Ohio State University, 1974
(202) 687-1032

Research in my laboratory is focused on understanding the structure, function and regulation of neuronal nicotinic cholinergic receptors in the brain and the autonomic nervous system.  In the brain, these receptors are strategically located where they can mediate the release of several important neurotransmitters, including dopamine, norepinephrine, acetylcholine, GABA and glutamate. In the autonomic nervous system, nicotinic receptors mediate fast excitatory transmission at ganglia; therefore, these ganglionic nicotinic receptors influence the function of nearly all peripheral organs.

Nicotinic receptors are composed of two or more protein subunits and exist as several different receptors subtypes based on their subunit composition. A major goal of our group’s research is to understand how these receptor subtypes differ with regard to their specific location within the brain, their pharmacology, and their regulation. To do this, we employ a wide variety of techniques, including radioligand binding with ligands selective for subgroups of these receptors, immunoprecipitation of labeled receptors and western blot analysis of specific subunits using selective antibodies, and pharmacological characterization of receptor functions.  We have used molecular biological methods to create a library of mammalian cells that stably express neuronal nicotinic receptors of defined subunit composition.  These cells have allowed us to compare the pharmacological properties of these defined receptor subtypes with native neuronal receptors in CNS and ganglia.

Selected Publications:

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