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Lee, Amy

Amy Lee

Department of Neuroscience, College of Natural Sciences

Karl Folkers Chair in Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research II (Fellow)

Ion channels, Ca2+ signaling, synapses, retinal circuits, nerve regeneration


Phone: 512-471-1156

Office Location
NHB 3.139

Postal Address
100 E 24TH ST
AUSTIN, TX 78712

Amy Lee received her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Virginia under the mentorship of Kevin Lynch and went on to postdoctoral work with William Catterall at the University of Washington. She began her independent research career in 2002 as Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Pharmacology at Emory University. In 2009, she moved to the Dept. of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Iowa, where she rose through the ranks to full professor in 2015 and also served as Assistant Dean for Research in the Carver College of Medicine from 2014-2019. She is broadly interested in the structure/function relationships of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels, and the roles that these channels play in orchestrating the development and mature function of the nervous system.

Structure/function relationships of voltage-gated (Cav) Ca2+ channels: We are studying the molecular determinants and protein interactions that regulate the biophysical properties of Cav channels. Technical approaches include patch-clamp electrophysiology, voltage-clamp fluorometry, FRET, and isothermal titration calorimetry. A major goal of this project is to generate modified Cachannels to study their roles within neuronal cell-types and circuits.

Ca2+ signaling mechanisms controlling axonal regeneration: We are investigating a novel pathway involving Cav channels and calmodulin-like Ca2+ binding proteins (CaBPs) in sensory neurons. We are determining how Cav coupling to CaBPs alters the regenerative growth of axons in vitro, and the recovery of sensory function following nerve injury in vivo. Techniques include live-cell imaging, single-cell RNAseq, and machine-learning approaches for analyzing neuronal morphology. 

Cav and other ion channels and retinal circuit development and function: We are investigating the roles of Cav channel subtypes in regulating photoreceptor synapse assembly, and how dysregulation of these channels lead to aberrant and homeostatic forms of rewiring within retinal circuits. Techniques include multi-photon imaging/electrophysiology in retinal tissue, behavioral analyses of visual function, and imaging (super-resolution and electron microscopy) of protein localization and synaptic structure.

Representative publications

LeeA., Wong, S.T., Gallagher, D., Li, B., Storm, D.R., Scheuer, T., and W.A. Catterall. (1999) Ca2+/calmodulin binds to and modulates P/Q-type calcium channels. Nature 399:155-159

Zhou, H., Kim, S.-A., Kirk, E.A., Tippens, A. L., Sun, H., Haeseleer, F., and ALee. (2004) Ca2+-binding protein-1 facilitates and forms a postsynaptic complex with Cav1.2 (L-type) Ca2+ channels. J. Neurosci. 24:4698-4708

Calin-Jageman, I., Yu, K., Hall, R.A., Mei, L., and ALee. (2007) Erbin enhances voltage-dependent facilitation of Cav1.3 Ca2+ channels through relief of an autoinhibitory domain in the Cav1.3 α1 subunit J. Neurosci. 27:1374-1385

Jenkins, M.A., Christel, C.J., Jiao, Y., Abiria, S., Kim, K.Y., Usachev, Y.M., Obermair, G.J., Colbran, R.J., and ALee. (2010) Ca2+-dependent facilitation of Cav1.3 Ca2+ channels by densin and Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II. J. Neurosci. 30:5125-5135

Gregory, F.D., Bryan, K.E., Pangršič ,T., Calin-Jageman,I.E., Moser, T., and ALee. (2011) Harmonin inhibits presynaptic Cav1.3 Ca²⁺ channels in mouse inner hair cells. Nat. Neurosci. 14:1109-1111

Inagaki, A., Frank C.A., Usachev, Y.M., Benveniste, M., and ALee. (2014) Pharmacological correction of gating defects in the voltage- gated Cav2.1 Ca2+ channel due to a familial hemiplegic migraine mutation. Neuron 81: 91-102

Wang S, Stanika RI, Wang X, Hagen J, Kennedy MB, Obermair GJ, Colbran RJ, Lee A. (2017) Densin-180 controls the trafficking and signaling of voltage-gated Cav1.2 Ca2+channels at excitatory synapses. J. Neurosci. 37:4679-4691.

Kerov, V., Laird, J.G., Joiner, M.L., Knecht, S., Soh, D., Hagen, J., Gardner, S.H., Gutierrez, W., Yoshimatsu, T., Bhattarai, S., Puthussery, T., Artemyev, N.O., Drack, A.V., Wong, R.O., Baker, S.A., and A. Lee. (2018) a2d-4 is required for the molecular and structural organization of rod and cone photoreceptor synapses. J. Neurosci. 38: 6145-6160.

Thomas, J.R., Hagen, J., Soh, D., and A. Lee. (2018) Molecular moieties masking Ca2+- dependent facilitation of voltage-gated Cav2.2 Ca2+ channels. J. Gen. Physiol. 150: 83-94.

Williams, B., Haeseleer, F., and A. Lee. (2018) Splicing of an automodulatory in Cav1.4 Ca2+ channels confers distinct regulation by calmodulin. J. Gen. Physiol. 150:1676- 1687.

Maddox, J.W., Randall,K., Williams, B, Hagen, J, Derr, P.J.,  Kerov, V., Della Santina, L, Baker S.A., Hoon, M., and A. Lee. (2020) A dual role for Cav1.4 Ca2+ channels in the molecular and structural organization of the rod photoreceptor synapse. eLife 9:e62184

1986    National Merit Scholar

1986    University of Michigan Alumni Scholarship

1990    Graduation with Distinction, University of Michigan

1995    Individual pre-doctoral NRSA F31 MH11074-01

1997    Eric Lothman Award in Recognition of Outstanding

            Achievement in Neuroscience, University of Virginia

1998    Individual post-doctoral NRSA F32 NS10645-01

2002    PhRMA Foundation Research Starter Award

2007    Department of Pharmacology, Emory University School of

            Medicine, Teaching Excellence Award

2011    Carver Research Program of Excellence Award

2012    Elected to Biophysical Society Council

2014    Women of Innovation Award, Technology Association of Iowa

2015    AAMC Basic Research Video Competition Award https://medresearch.tumblr.com/GRANDwinner

2016    University of Iowa Faculty Communicating Ideas Award

2017    University of Iowa Diversity Catalyst Award