Print-only header

Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Personnel - Eric L. Barker

Eric L. Barker, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Research
Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
Phone: 765-494-9940
Fax: 765-494-1414
E-mail: barkerel@purdue.edu

Full directory listing
Picture of Eric L. Barker
Specialization: Molecular Pharmacology of Antidepressant- and Cocaine-Sensitive Serotonin Transporters;Endogenous Cannabinoid Transport

Education

B.S. - 1988 - St. Louis College of Pharmacy
Ph.D. - 1993 - Vanderbilt University
Postdoc - 1993-95 - Emory University
Postdoc - 1995-97 - Vanderbilt University

Research: Molecular Pharmacology of Antidepressant- and Cocaine-Sensitive Serotonin Transporters;Endogenous Cannabinoid Transport

Proper control of the chemical mediators of neurotransmission requires dynamic regulation of neurotransmitter concentrations in the synapse. For most transmitters such as serotonin, clearance from the synapse is mostly dependent upon an active uptake system mediated by Na+- and Cl--dependent transporter proteins located on presynaptic terminals. In addition to these active transport systems, recent evidence suggests that certain neuromodulatory substances such as the putative endogenous cannabinoid anandamide are removed from the synapse by facilitative transport processes. Our research focuses on identifying structural determinants of functional and pharmacological properties of serotonin and anandamide transporters. These studies use multiple techniques including expression and characterization of cloned transporters in mammalian cells, electrophysiology, immunoblotting, the formation of chimeric proteins, and site-directed mutagenesis to investigate the molecular properties of these transporters.

Serotonin transporters (SERTs) are of particular clinical interest because they are the molecular targets for many antidepressants such as imipramine (Tofranil), sertraline (Zoloft), and fluoxetine (Prozac), as well as many drugs of abuse like cocaine and amphetamine. The cloning of SERT revealed a proposed protein structure consisting of 12 transmembrane-spanning domains. The question related to this structure is what amino acids are involved in the formation of the binding site for SERT inhibitors and substrates? We are currently using chimeric protein and mutagenesis strategies to identify amino acids involved in the pharmacological properties of cocaine and amphetamines like MDMA or "ecstasy." In addition to molecular biology approaches, we anticipate using structure-activity relationship studies and molecular modeling to further refine our understanding of drug binding and action at serotonin transporters.

We are also interested in the identification and characterization of transport proteins for the endo-genous cannabinoid anandamide. Anandamide (N-arachidonylethanolamide) is a member of a larger class of fatty acid derived signaling molecules that possess in vivo and in vitro marijuana-like actions. Evidence suggests that anandamide is rapidly transported into neurons and astrocytes after release, where it undergoes rapid intracellular degradation. Anandamide uptake appears to be a facilitative process, and we have evidence that the intracellular metabolizing enzyme, fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), plays an important role in maintaining the inward gradient needed for anandamide transport. Future studies in this area will focus on better understanding the role of FAAH in anandamide uptake as well as identifying novel proteins that may also be involved with anandamide transport.

 

The Barker Lab Group
Picture of the Barker Bunch (from Left to Right):  Lamont, Gustavo, Crystal, Matt, Kate, Melissa, Kellie, Marla, David, and Eric
The Barker Bunch (from Left to Right): Lamont, Gustavo, Crystal, Matt, Kate, Melissa, Kellie, Marla, David, and Eric.

 

Lab Members:

Timothy John Beenen (PULSe Graduate Student)
Charles Paul Kuntz II (Graduate Student)

Representative Publications

Click here for a PubMed Listing of Dr. Barker's publications

This record was last updated on Jun 6, 2013 at 11:40 AM
E-mail Webmaster
Maintained by: College of Pharmacy
This page was last modified at 2:16 PM on March 21, 2011
Purdue University, Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
575 Stadium Mall Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907,  (765) 494-1403, FAX: (765) 494-1414
© 2003-2014 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints
If you have trouble accessing this page because of a disability, please contact us at webmaster@pharmacy.purdue.edu.