Lawrence Salkoff, PhD

Lawrence Salkoff, PhD

Professor of Neuroscience

Google Scholar Profile | ResearchGate Profile


The Salkoff laboratory studies potassium channels which are key elements which control and shape electrical activity in the brain, heart, and other excitable tissues. These channels are major determinants of behavior and higher brain function. The potassium channels we study are involved in human disease (e.g. epilepsy, cardiac arrhythmia), basic physiology (e.g. control of blood pressure, protection from hypoxia), and higher brain function (e.g. learning and memory). The lab’s approach is a comparative genomic one which involves comparing the structure and function of potassium channels in different species (e.g. humans, rodents, Drosophila and the nematode worm C. elegans). These comparisons have led to many fundamental insights about the basic function, development, and regulation of potassium channels, and their role in behavior. The techniques used in the laboratory include genetics and genomics, the creation and use of transgenic animals, molecular biology, and biophysical studies which include electrophysiological recordings of both native cells and heterologous cell systems which we use to express our cloned channels.

In general, ion channels are the major effector molecules through which neurotransmitters and many hormones act. Ion channels are the “transistors” (electronic switches) of the brain that generate and propagate electrical signals in the aqueous environment of the brain that resembles dilute seawater, a reflection of the evolutionary origin of the nervous system in the sea. Ion channels not only generate active electrical responses, but they set the resting potentials of cells, as well. Without them, life as we know it would not exist, much less higher brain function.

Selected publications

  • Li P, Halabi CM, Stewart R, Butler A, Brown B, Xia X, Santi C, England S, Ferreira J, Mecham RP, Salkoff L. Sodium-activated potassium channels moderate excitability in vascular smooth muscle. J Physiol. 2019; 597:5093-5108. doi: 10.1113/JP278279. Epub 2019 Oct 1.
  • Chavez JC, Ferreira Gregorio J, Butler A, Treviňo CL, Darszon A, Salkoff L, Santi CM. SLO3 K+ channels control calcium entry through CATSPER channels in sperm. J Biol Chem. 2014; 289(46):32266-75.
  • Budelli G, Geng Y, Butler A, Magleby KL, Salkoff L. Properties of Slo1 K+ channels with and without the gating ring. PNAS. 2013; 110:16657–16662.
  • Chavez JC, de la Vega-Beltrn JL, Escoffier J, Visconti PE, Trevio CL, Darszon A, Salkoff L, Santi CM. Ion permeabilities in mouse sperm reveal an external trigger for SLO3-dependent hyperpolarization. PLoS One. 2013; 8(4):e60578. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0060578.
  • Hage TA, Salkoff L. Sodium-activated potassium channels are functionally coupled to persistent sodium currents. J Neurosci. 2012; 32(8):2714-21.
  • Budelli G, Hage T, Wei A, Rojas P, Jong Y-JI, O’Malley K, Salkoff L. Na+-activated K+ channels express a large delayed outward current in neurons during normal physiology. Nature Neurosci. 2009; 12(6):745-50.
  • Salkoff L, Butler A, Ferreira G, Santi CM, Wei A. High conductance potassium channels of the Slo family. Nature Reviews Neurosci. 2006; 5:921-931.
  • Santi CM, Ferreira G, Yang B, Gazula V-R, Butler A, Wei A, Kaczmarek LK, Salkoff L. Opposite regulation of Slick and Slack K+ channels by neuromodulators. J Neurosci. 2006; 26:5059-5068.
  • Yuan A, Santi CM, Wei A, Wang ZW, Pollak K, Nonet M, Kaczmarek L, Crowder CM, Salkoff L. The sodium-activated potassium channel is encoded by a member of the Slo gene family. Neuron. 2003; 37:765–773.

See a complete list of Dr. Salkoff’s publications on PubMed.


1967 BA, Economics, University of California-Los Angeles

1979 PhD, Neurogenetics, University of California-Berkeley

1979-82 Postdoc in Neurobiology, Yale University, New Haven, CT

Selected honors

1985-1988 Klingenstein Research Fellowship

2015 Cornerstone Faculty Mentor of the Year