Kathleen Keef: Biography/Education

Professor: Emeritus

Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology & Physiology | Department of Physiology and Cell Biology


Since my arrival at the University of Nevada, Reno in 1987 my work has focused primarily upon the ionic mechanisms underlying the control of smooth muscle contraction. This work has included studies of both vascular and visceral smooth muscles. We have studied a variety of different pathways which regulate smooth muscle contraction including the actions of autonomic and enteric nerves and their associated post-junctional receptors, pacemaker activity and stretch dependent myogenic responses. To investigate these pathways a number of different approaches are used. At the whole tissue level both contractile and electrical activity are measured using strain gauges and intracellular microelectrode techniques. These results are then used to direct more mechanistic studies of the underlying ionic conductances using whole-cell and isolated patch recording techniques on isolated smooth muscle myocytes. Immunohistochemical techniques have also been used to determine the spatial localization of relevant proteins. In recent years this work has been extended to include studies directed toward identifying unique splice variants of channels that are present in tissues. In some cases channels have been cloned and expressed in heterologous expression systems to identify their biophysical characteristics and to further explore the molecular mechanisms underlying regulation of the channel.

In my spare time I also enjoy activities such as hiking in the Sierra Nevada.

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