Alexander Haworth

Proteolytic processing of sodium channel ß1 subunits

After graduating from the University of Sheffield with a BSc in Biomedical Science in 2015, I began my PhD investigating the contribution of secretase cleavage to voltage-gated sodium channel β1 function with Dr. Will Brackenbury, Dr. Christoph Baumann, and Prof. Robert White at the University of York.

Apart from the contribution of the β1 subunit in modulating α-subunits and propagating action potentials within neurons, little more is known about it. However, potential involvement in regulating cell adhesion, cell migration, process outgrowth and nuclear signalling have been proposed, and novel findings have uncovered secretase cleavage sites within the β1 subunit. My research aims to implicate secretase cleavage in regulating various aspects of β1 function, such as β1 mobility and nuclear localisation.

The importance of understanding the involvement of secretase enzymes in β1 function is emphasised by the fact β1 subunits have a pro-metastatic role in malignant breast tumours. Survival rates for metastatic breast cancer are as low as 20%, and by implicating secretase enzymes to β1 function, we uncover the possibility of targeting secretases as a therapeutic agent in fighting breast cancer.