Valeria Vásquez, Ph.D.

Valeria Vásquez, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Department of Physiology
The University of Tennessee
Health Science Center

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center
894 Union Avenue
Memphis, TN 38163
Office: 360 Nash Research Building
Lab: 361 Nash Research Building
Office: (901) 448-7223
Lab: (901) 448-8207
Email: Valeria Vásquez



  • Postdoctoral: Stanford University, School of Medicine, Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology
  • Ph.D.: University of Virginia, Department of Physiology, Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics Program
  • Licentiate: Universidad Central de Venezuela, Cell Biology Program

Research Interests

Mechanosensitive ion channels translate mechanical stimuli into an electrochemical signal, which ultimately leads to physiological or perceptual responses. Some of these responses in humans include touch, pain, proprioception, hearing, and blood pressure regulation. These channels do not share a common topology and so far five classes of membrane proteins have been proposed to form mechanosensitive channels in eukaryotes: the amiloride-sensitive sodium channels (DEG/ENaCs), the transient receptor potential channels (TRPs), the two-pore domain K+ channels (K2Ps), the Piezo proteins, and the transmembrane channel-like proteins (TMCs). We are particularly interested on identifying membrane lipids that regulate channel function in vivo and the mechanism by which they interact to give rise to mechano-dependent gating.

Our lab aims to understand the functional, structural, and molecular mechanism by which mechanosensitive channels respond to mechanical stimuli and help delineate a general framework for their roles in health and disease. We follow two main avenues: 1) in vitro biochemical and biophysical approaches to study protein-protein and protein-lipid interactions of bona fide mechanosensitive channel complexes, and 2) in vivo approaches to characterize mechanosensitive channels in C. elegans having novel physiological roles.

Representative Publications

  • Caires R, Sierra-Valdez FJ, Millet JRM, Herwig JD, Roan E, Vásquez V, Cordero-Morales JF. Omega-3 Fatty Acids Modulate TRPV4 Function through Plasma Membrane Remodeling. Cell Rep. 2017 Oct 3;21(1):246-258. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.09.029. PubMed PMID: 28978477.
  • Velisetty P, Stein RA, Sierra-Valdez FJ, Vásquez V, Cordero-Morales JF. Expression and Purification of the Pain Receptor TRPV1 for Spectroscopic Analysis. Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 29;7(1):9861. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-10426-7. PubMed PMID: 28852163; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5575240.
  • Vásquez V, Scherrer G, Goodman MB. Sensory biology: it takes Piezo2 to tango. Curr Biol. 2014 Jun 16;24(12):R566-R569. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.05.011. PubMed PMID: 24937283.
  • Vásquez V, Krieg M, Lockhead D, Goodman MB. Phospholipids that contain polyunsaturated fatty acids enhance neuronal cell mechanics and touch sensation. Cell Rep. 2014 Jan 16;6(1):70-80. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2013.12.012. Epub 2014 Jan 2. PubMed PMID: 24388754; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4046620.
  • Vásquez V. MscS inactivation: an exception rather than the rule. An extremophilic MscS reveals diversity within the family. Biophys J. 2013 Apr 2;104(7):1391-3. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2013.02.010. PubMed PMID: 23561511; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3617420.
  • Martinac B, Rohde PR, Battle AR, Petrov E, Pal P, Foo AF, Vásquez V, Huynh T, Kloda A. Studying mechanosensitive ion channels using liposomes. Methods Mol Biol. 2010;606:31-53. doi: 10.1007/978-1-60761-447-0_4. PubMed PMID: 20013388.

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