Aidan Johnson

Structure-guided design of functional probes for TRPC1/4/5 channels

About me

I undertook my undergraduate studies at the University of Glasgow, graduating with an MSci in Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry. As part of my degree I spent a year in Utrecht University in the Netherlands, synthesising antibiotic lipopeptides as part of an investigation into antibiotic resistance. Upon returning to Glasgow, I worked on cancer-targeting PROTACs. These projects fostered a strong interest in organic synthesis and structure-guided chemical biology, which meant this project was a perfect fit.

My project

TRPC5 and the related TRPC1 and TRPC4 channels are expressed widely throughout the body and their malfunction is implicated in heart disease, kidney function, and anxiety. Due to their complicated make-up, structural and functional information about specific channel subtypes is difficult to assess. An existing high potency ligand for TRPC1/4/5 channels serves as the starting point for structure-guided design, based on cryo-EM structures. I hope to synthesise and assess photoswitchable ligands, allowing control over the opening and closing of the channels. Along with other techniques such as spin-label probes, I hope to gain knowledge that can guide the design of potential therapeutic agents.


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