RPE Cell Volume Regulation by Bestrophins
There are a number of inherited forms of macular degeneration which may provide insight into age-related macular degeneration. One inherited form of macular degeneration is caused by a gene (bestrophin) that makes a protein that is a chloride ion channel. Chloride ion channels are conduits for movement of chloride ions between the inside and outside of the cell. Although it is not understood how the dysfunction of a chloride ion channel can cause macular degeneration, Dr. Hartzell plans to use genetic models to explore the role that chloride channels play in the function of the retina. Dr. Hartzell believes that the function of these channels may be to regulate the volume of the cell. This is important because a lack of volume regulation causes cells to burst.