F A C U L T Y   P R O F I L E 

Robert Kass

Chairman; Hosack Professor of Pharmacology, Vice Dean of Research

Regulation of ion channel expression in normal and genetically-altered cardiac cells: gene-targeted pharmacology of inherited cardiac arrhythmias.

Office: Presbyterian Hospital | 7th floor | Room 318
Telephone: 212.305.3720

Current Research
The focus of Dr. Kass' research program is the structure and function of ion channels that are expressed primarily in the heart. The laboratory most recently has focused on understanding the molecular physiology and pharmacology of congenital arrhythmias. These arrhythmias are caused by inherited mutations in genes coding for ion channels and/or ion channel related proteins expressed in the heart. This work has contributed to an understanding of gene-specific risk factors caused by mutation-induced changes in heart ion channel activity, and to the development of a mutation-specific approach to manage these disorders. The mutation-specific therapeutic strategy, verified in genotyped patients, has established the principle that two variants of the same genetic disorder require dramatically different therapeutic strategies for disease management based on biophysical properties of specific genetic lesions. This approach has evolved from close collaborations with clinical colleagues in which information is shared from clinic to basic laboratory and back to clinic. Additional studies are aimed at unraveling the structural basis of mutation-induced, and potentially lethal, disease phenotypes using approaches such as voltage-clamp fluorometry to directly measure movement of gating machinery in the ion channel of interest as well as biochemical methods of directly probing structures of region of ion channels that are hotspots for disease-causing mutations and the use of computer-based modeling to understand both structure and functional consequences of these mutations. The goal of this approach is to unmask new and specific targets for the development of anti-arrhythmic drugs.

Currently, work also is underway in the laboratory to study the mechanisms underlying heritable arrhythmias in the context of complex genetic backgrounds by investigating the cellular electrophysiology of cardiomyocytes differentiated from inducible pluripotent stem cells derived from family members of patients harboring disease-causing mutations. This approach offers, for the first time, opportunities to screen drugs for effective disease management when multiple genes may be involved in the disease phenotype.

Selected Publications

1. Osteen, J.D., C. Gonzalez, K.J. Sampson, V. Iyer, S. Rebolledo, H.P. Larsson, and R.S. Kass, KCNE1 alters the voltage sensor movements necessary to open the KCNQ1 channel gate. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2010.

2. Osteen, J.D., K.J. Sampson, and R.S. Kass, The cardiac IKs channel, complex indeed. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2010. 107(44): p. 18751-2.

3. Sampson, K.J. and R.S. Kass, Location, location, regulation: a novel role for beta-spectrin in the heart. J Clin Invest, 2010. 120(10): p. 3434-7.

4. Sampson, K.J., V. Iyer, A.R. Marks, and R.S. Kass, A computational model of Purkinje fibre single cell electrophysiology: implications for the long QT syndrome. J Physiol, 2010. 588(Pt 14): p. 2643-55

5. Bankston, J.R. and R.S. Kass, Molecular determinants of local anesthetic action of beta-blocking drugs: Implications for therapeutic management of long QT syndrome variant 3. J Mol Cell Cardiol, 2010. 48(1): p. 246-53.

6. Terrenoire, C., M.D. Houslay, G.S. Baillie, and R.S. Kass, The cardiac IKs potassium channel macromolecular complex includes the phosphodiesterase PDE4D3. J Biol Chem, 2009. 284(14): p. 9140-6.

7. Sampson, K.J., C. Terrenoire, D.O. Cervantes, R.A. Kaba, N.S. Peters, and R.S. Kass, Adrenergic regulation of a key cardiac potassium channel can contribute to atrial fibrillation: evidence from an I Ks transgenic mouse. J Physiol, 2008. 586(2): p. 627-37.

8. Chung, D.Y., P.J. Chan, J.R. Bankston, L. Yang, G. Liu, S.O. Marx, A. Karlin, and R.S. Kass, Location of KCNE1 relative to KCNQ1 in the I(KS) potassium channel by disulfide cross-linking of substituted cysteines. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2009. 106(3): p. 743-8.

9. Bankston, J.R., M. Yue, W. Chung, M. Spyres, R.H. Pass, E. Silver, K.J. Sampson, and R.S. Kass, A novel and lethal de novo LQT-3 mutation in a newborn with distinct molecular pharmacology and therapeutic response. PLoS One, 2007. 2(12): p. e1258.

10. Bankston, J.R., K.J. Sampson, S. Kateriya, I.W. Glaaser, D.L. Malito, W.K. Chung, and R.S. Kass, A novel LQT-3 mutation disrupts an inactivation gate complex with distinct rate-dependent phenotypic consequences. Channels (Austin), 2007. 1(4): p. 273-80.