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Biophysical Journal

Know the Editors

William R. Kobertz

University of Massachusetts

Editor for the Channels and

Transporters Section


What is your area of research?

In my laboratory we study the assembly, traffick-

ing, function, and structure of potassium chan-

nel complexes. Although a canonical potassium

conducting subunit possesses the rudimentary

machinery to generate an electrical signal, cells

have evolved membrane-embedded partner

proteins that associate with and fine-tune the

electrical currents of ion channels to achieve the

appropriate physiological function for a particular

cell. The rhythmicity of the heartbeat, mainte-

nance of arterial tone, and insulin release by cells

in the pancreas are all physiological processes that

require a healthy association between ion channel

and partner protein.

As a PhD-trained organic chemist with post-

doctoral training in ion channel biophysics and

N-glycosylation, my laboratory and I have the

most fun when we design novel chemical tools,

probes, or reagents to interrogate glycosylated ion

channel complexes. Currently, in my laboratory

we are determining what makes a good (or bad)

N-linked glycosylation site in membrane pro-

teins and how the two oligosaccharyltransferase

isoforms (STT3A and STT3B) handle different

N-linked consensus sites. Because mutations that

prevent N- or O-glycosylation of the membrane-

embedded KCNE1 potassium channel regulatory

subunit give rise to cardiac arrhythmias, we have

begun to dissect how the individual KCNE1

glycosylation sites affect assembly, trafficking, and

function in ventricular cardiomyocytes.

Lastly, we have been moonlighting as spectrosco-

pists—developing a chemical biology approach

to fluorescently visualize ion efflux. The develop-

ment of this technology was inspired, in part,

because I was envious of all the amazing small

molecule and genetically encodable sensors avail-

able for intracellular calcium. We plan to present

our data at the 60th Annual Biophysical Society

Meeting in Los Angeles. Hopefully the paparazzi

will leave us alone so we can enjoy the meeting!

William Kobertz

Highlights from


July 7 issue (109/1)

Be sure to check out these articles in the

latest issue of Biophysical Journal:

Simple and Robust Dual Color 3D

Super-Resolution Microscopy by Combined

Spectral-Demixing and Bi-plane Imaging

Christian Winterflood


Evgenia Platonova





Helge Ewers

Conformational State Transitions in the Glycine-

bBound GluN1 NMDA Receptor Ligand Binding

Domain via Single-Molecule Förster Resonance

Energy Transfer

David Cooper


Drew Dolino


Henriette Jaurich





Swarna Ramaswamy


Caitlin Nurik





Vasanthi Jayaraman


Christy Landes

Cholesterol Modulates CFTR Confinement in

the Plasma Membrane of Primary Epithelial


Asmahan Abu-Arish


Elvis Pandzic


Julie Goepp


Elizabeth Matthes


John Hanrahan


Paul Wiseman