Michael Koval, PhD
Professor of Medicine and Cell Biology
Emory University School of Medicine
Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine
Department of Cell Biology
The Koval lab has a long standing interest and expertise in studying cell membranes, with a particular emphasis in understanding the molecular basis for formation and remodeling of intercellular junctions. We have identified several steps in the quality control pathways which regulate assembly of gap junction proteins (connexins) into intercellular channels. This includes identifying the first chaperone protein with the capacity to regulate connexin oligomerization, a thioredoxin fold protein known as ERp29, that also regulates other key ion channels that control lung fluid balance including the CFTR chloride channel and ENaC sodium channel. Another major research direction in the Koval lab is to understand how tight junctions regulate the pulmonary air/liquid barrier. A long term goal of research in the Koval lab is to identify control points which augment barrier function as a means to improve the outcome of patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), Cystic Fibrosis and other forms of lung injury.