Rebecca Lewis

Dr Rebecca Lewis

Senior Lecturer in Physiology
BSc (Hons), PhD, FHEA


University roles and responsibilities

  • Section Lead for Molecular and Cellular Medicine

    Previous roles

    Senior Tutor for the School of Veterinary Medicine
    Outcomes Assessment Champion, School of Veterinary Medicine


    Research interests


    Postgraduate research supervision



    Louie Scott, Izabela Jurewicz, Kamalan Jeevaratnam, Rebecca Lewis (2021)Carbon nanotube-based scaffolds for cardiac tissue engineering—systematic review and narrative synthesis, In: Bioengineering (Basel)8(6) Mdpi

    Cardiovascular disease is currently the top global cause of death, however, research into new therapies is in decline. Tissue engineering is a solution to this crisis and in combination with the use of carbon nanotubes (CNTs), which have drawn recent attention as a biomaterial, could facilitate the development of more dynamic and complex in vitro models. CNTs' electrical conductivity and dimensional similarity to cardiac extracellular proteins provide a unique opportunity to deliver scaffolds with stimuli that mimic the native cardiac microenvironment in vitro more effectively. This systematic review aims to evaluate the use and efficacy of CNTs for cardiac tissue scaffolds and was conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines. Three databases were searched: PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science. Papers resulting from these searches were then subjected to analysis against pre-determined inclusion and quality appraisal criteria. From 249 results, 27 manuscripts met the criteria and were included in this review. Neonatal rat cardiomyocytes were most commonly used in the experiments, with multi-walled CNTs being most common in tissue scaffolds. Immunofluorescence was the experimental technique most frequently used, which was employed for the staining of cardiac-specific proteins relating to contractile and electrophysiological function.

    MICHAEL PYCRAFT HUGHES, EMILY JANE KRUCHEK, Andrew D. Beale, Stephen J. Kitcatt, Sara Qureshi, Zachary P. Trott, Oriane Charbonnel, Paul A. Agbaje, Erin A. Henslee, ROBERT ANDREW DOREY, REBECCA LEWIS, FATIMA LABEED (2021)Vm-related extracellular potentials observed in red blood cells, In: Scientific Reports Nature Research

    Even in nonexcitable cells, the membrane potential Vm is fundamental to cell function, with roles from ion channel regulation, development, to cancer metastasis. Vm arises from transmembrane ion concentration gradients; standard models assume homogeneous extracellular and intracellular ion concentrations, and that Vm only exists across the cell membrane and has no significance beyond it. Using red blood cells, we show that this is incorrect, or at least incomplete; Vm is detectable in the extracellular ion concentration beyond the cell surface, and that modulating Vm produces quantifiable and consistent changes in extracellular potential. Evidence strongly suggests this is due to capacitive coupling between Vm and the electrical double layer, rather than molecular transporters. We show that modulating Vm changing the extracellular ion composition mimics the behaviour of voltage-activated ion channel in non-excitable channels. We also observe Vm-synchronised circadian rhythms in extracellular potential, with significant implications for cell-cell interactions and cardiovascular disease.

    Louie Scott, Katrín Elídóttir, Kamalan Jeevaratnam, Izabela Jurewicz, Rebecca Lewis (2022)Electrical stimulation through conductive scaffolds for cardiomyocyte tissue engineering: Systematic review and narrative synthesis, In: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences1515(1)pp. 105-119

    Electrical conductivity is of great significance to cardiac tissue engineering and permits the use of electrical stimulation in mimicking cardiac pacing. The development of biomaterials for tissue engineering can incorporate physical properties that are uncommon to standard cell culture and can facilitate improved cardiomyocyte function. In this review, the PICOT question asks, "How has the application of external electrical stimulation in conductive scaffolds for tissue engineering affected cardiomyocyte behavior in in vitro cell culture?" The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis guidelines, with predetermined inclusion and quality appraisal criteria, were used to assess publications from PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus. Results revealed carbon nanotubes to be the most common conductive agent in biomaterials and rodent-sourced cell types as the most common cardiomyocytes used. To assess cardiomyocytes, immunofluorescence was used most often, utilizing proteins, such as connexin 43, cardiac α-actinin, and cardiac troponins. It was determined that the modal average stimulation protocol comprised 1-3 V square biphasic 50-ms pulses at 1 Hz, applied toward the end of cell culture. The addition of electrical stimulation to in vitro culture has exemplified it as a powerful tool for cardiac tissue engineering and brings researchers closer to creating optimal artificial cardiac tissue constructs.

    CEDRIC DORIAN VALLEE, BRENDAN JAMES HOWLIN, REBECCA LEWIS (2022)Single Ion Free Energy Calculation in ASIC1: The Importance of the HG loop, In: Physical chemistry chemical physics Royal Society of Chemistry

    Acid Sensing Ion Channels (ASICs) are one of the most studied channels of the Epithelial Sodium Channel/Degenerin (ENaC/DEG) superfamily. They are responsible for excitatory responses following acidification of the extracellular medium and are involved in several important physiological roles. The ASIC1 subunit can form a functional homotrimeric channel and its structure is currently the most characterised of the whole ENaC/DEG family. Here we computed the free energy profiles for single ion permeation in two different structures of ASIC1 using both Na+ and Cl- as permeating ions. The first structure is the open structure of the channel from the PDB entry 4NTW, and the second structure is the closed structure with the re-entrant loop which contains the highly conserved `HG' motif form PDB entry 6VTK. Both structures show cation selective free energy profiles, however the profiles of the permeating Na+ differ significantly between the two structures. Indeed, whereas there is only a small energetically favorable (-0.5 kcal mol-1) location for Na+ in the open channel (4NTW) near the end of the pore, we observed a clear ion binding site (-7.8 kcal mol-1) located in between the `GAS' belt and the `HG' loop for the channel containing the re-entrant loop (6VTK). Knowing that the `GAS' motif was determined as the selectivity filter, our results support previous observations while addressing the importance of the `HG' motif for the interactions between the pore and the permeating cations.

    Youngchan Kim, Federico Bertagna, Edeline M. D’Souza, Derren J. Heyes, Linus O. Johannissen, Eveliny T. Nery, Antonio Pantelias, Alejandro Sanchez-Pedreño Jimenez, Louie Slocombe, Michael G. Spencer, Jim Al-Khalili, Gregory S. Engel, Sam Hay, Suzanne M. Hingley-Wilson, Kamalan Jeevaratnam, Alex R. Jones, Daniel R. Kattnig, Rebecca Lewis, Marco Sacchi, Nigel S. Scrutton, S. Ravi P. Silva, Johnjoe McFadden (2021)Quantum Biology: An Update and Perspective, In: Quantum Reports3(6)pp. 80-126 MDPI AG

    Understanding the rules of life is one of the most important scientific endeavours and has revolutionised both biology and biotechnology. Remarkable advances in observation techniques allow us to investigate a broad range of complex and dynamic biological processes in which living systems could exploit quantum behaviour to enhance and regulate biological functions. Recent evidence suggests that these non-trivial quantum mechanical effects may play a crucial role in maintaining the non-equilibrium state of biomolecular systems. Quantum biology is the study of such quantum aspects of living systems. In this review, we summarise the latest progress in quantum biology, including the areas of enzyme-catalysed reactions, photosynthesis, spin-dependent reactions, DNA, fluorescent proteins, and ion channels. Many of these results are expected to be fundamental building blocks towards understanding the rules of life.

    Rebecca Lewis, Richard Barrett-Jolley (2011)Modelling Ion Channel Behaviour in Chondrocytes, In: Biophysical journal100(3)pp. 91-91a
    R Lewis, R Barrett-Jolley (2015)Changes in Membrane Receptors and Ion Channels as Potential Biomarkers for Osteoarthritis., In: Front Physiol6pp. 357-?

    Osteoarthritis (OA), a degenerative joint condition, is currently difficult to detect early enough for any of the current treatment options to be completely successful. Early diagnosis of this disease could increase the numbers of patients who are able to slow its progression. There are now several diseases where membrane protein biomarkers are used for early diagnosis. The numbers of proteins in the membrane is vast and so it is a rich source of potential biomarkers for OA but we need more knowledge of these before they can be considered practical biomarkers. How are they best measured and are they selective to OA or even certain types of OA? The first step in this process is to identify membrane proteins that change in OA. Here, we summarize several ion channels and receptors that change in OA models and/or OA patients, and may thus be considered candidates as novel membrane biomarkers of OA.

    Rebecca Lewis, Jiaqi Li, Peter McCormick, Christopher L-H Huang, Kamalan Jeevaratnam (2019)Is the sigma-1 receptor a potential pharmacological target for cardiac pathologies? A systematic review, In: IJC Heart & Vasculature26 Elsevier

    Sigma-1 receptors are ligand-regulated chaperone proteins, involved in several cellular mechanisms. The aim of this systematic review was to examine the effects that the sigma-1 receptor has on the cardiovascular system. The interaction targets and proposed mechanisms of action of sigma-1 receptors were explored, with the aim of determining if the sigma-1 receptor is a potential pharmacological target for cardiac pathologies. This systematic review was conducted according to the PRISMA guidelines and these were used to critically appraise eligible studies. Pubmed and Scopus were systematically searched for articles investigating sigma-1 receptors in the cardiovascular system. Papers identified by the search terms were then subject to analysis against pre-determined inclusion criteria. 23 manuscripts met the inclusion criteria and were included in this review. The experimental platforms, experimental techniques utilised and the results of the studies were summarised. The sigma-1 receptor is found to be implicated in cardioprotection, via various mechanisms including stimulating the Akt-eNOS pathway, and reduction of Ca2+ leakage into the cytosol via modulating certain calcium channels. Sigma-1 receptors are also found to modulate other cardiac ion channels including different subtypes of potassium and sodium channels and have been shown to modulate intracardiac neuron excitability. The sigma-1 receptor is a potential therapeutic target for treatment of cardiac pathologies, particularly cardiac hypertrophy. We therefore suggest investigating the cardioprotective mechanisms of sigma-1 receptor function, alongside proposed potential ligands that can stimulate these functions.

    Alice A. K. King, Brigitta Matta-Domjan, Matthew J. Large, Csaba Matta, Sean P. Ogilvie, Niki Bardi, Hugh J. Byrne, Anvar Zakhidov, Izabela Jurewicz, Eirini Velliou, Rebecca Lewis, Roberto La Ragione, Alan Dalton (2017)Pristine carbon nanotube scaffolds for the growth of chondrocytes, In: Journal of Materials Chemistry B5(41)pp. 8178-8182 Royal Society of Chemistry

    The effective growth of chondrocytes and the formation of cartilage is demonstrated on scaffolds of aligned carbon nanotubes; as two dimensional sheets and on three dimensional textiles. Raman spectroscopy is used to confirm the presence of chondroitin sulfate, which is critical in light of the unreliability of traditional dye based assays for carbon nanomaterial substrates. The textile exhibits a very high affinity for chondrocyte growth and could present a route to implantable, flexible cartilage scaffolds with tuneable mechanical properties.

    Rebecca Lewis, Cerrie A. Sherfield, Christopher R. Fellows, Rachel Burrow, Iain Young, Alex Dugdale (2017)The effect of experience, simulator-training and biometric feedback on manual ventilation technique, In: Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia44(3)pp. 567-576 Elsevier Ltd

    Objective To determine the frequency of provision and main providers (veterinary surgeons, nurses or trainees) of manual ventilation in UK veterinary practices. Furthermore, to determine the variation in peak inspiratory (inflation) pressure (PIP), applied to a lung model during manual ventilation, by three different groups of operators (inexperienced, experienced and specialist), before and after training. Study Design Questionnaire survey. Development of a lung model simulator with real-time biometric (manometry) feedback capability and its testing as a training tool on operators with a range of experiences. Methods Postal questionnaires were sent to 100 randomly selected veterinary practices. The lung model simulator was manually ventilated, in a staged process over three weeks, with and without real-time biometric feedback (PIP display), by three groups of volunteer operators: inexperienced, experienced and specialist. Results The questionnaires determined that veterinary nurses were responsible for providing the majority of manual ventilation in veterinary practices, mainly drawing on theoretical knowledge rather than any specific training. Thoracic surgery and apnoea were the main reasons for provision of manual ventilation. Specialists performed well when manually ventilating the lung model, regardless of feedback-training. Both inexperienced and experienced operators showed significant improvement in technique when using the feedback training tool: variation in PIP decreased significantly until subjects provided manual ventilation at peak inspiratory pressures within the defined optimum range. Preferences for different forms of feedback (graphical, numerical or scale display), revealed that the operators’ choice was not always the method which gave least variation in PIP. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance This study highlighted a need for training in manual ventilation at an early stage in veterinary and veterinary nursing careers and demonstrated how feedback is important in the process of experiential learning. A manometer device which can provide immediate feedback during training, or indeed in a real clinical setting, should improve patient safety.

    Rebecca Lewis, Constanza B. Gomez Alvarez, Margaret Rayman, Susan Lanham-New, Anthony Woolf, Ali Mobasheri (2019)Strategies for optimising musculoskeletal health in the 21st century, In: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders20164pp. 1-15 BMC

    We live in a world with an ever-increasing ageing population. Studying healthy ageing and reducing the socioeconomic impact of age-related diseases is a key research priority for the industrialised and developing countries, along with a better mechanistic understanding of the physiology and pathophysiology of ageing that occurs in a number of age-related musculoskeletal disorders. Arthritis and musculoskeletal disorders constitute a major cause of disability and morbidity globally and result in enormous costs for our health and social-care systems. By gaining a better understanding of healthy musculoskeletal ageing and the risk factors associated with premature ageing and senescence, we can provide better care and develop new and better-targeted therapies for common musculoskeletal disorders. This review is the outcome of a two-day multidisciplinary, international workshop sponsored by the Institute of Advanced Studies entitled “Musculoskeletal Health in the 21st Century” and held at the University of Surrey from 30th June-1st July 2015. The aim of this narrative review is to summarise current knowledge of musculoskeletal health, ageing and disease and highlight strategies for prevention and reducing the impact of common musculoskeletal diseases.

    CR Fellows, K Gauthaman, PN Pushparaj, M Abbas, C Matta, R Lewis, C Buhrmann, M Shakibaei, A Mobasheri (2016)Stem Cells in Bone and Articular Cartilage Tissue Regeneration, In: Bone and Cartilage Regeneration(9)pp. 177-204 Springer International Publishing

    Articular cartilage is a thin layer of hyaline cartilage that covers the surface of the bones of diarthrodial joints. It is an avascular, alymphatic and aneural tissue, with a smooth opalescent appearance. Cartilage is a highly organised and specialised tissue allowing free articulation, painless movement and transmission of force through the skeleton. Compared to other tissues, articular cartilage has a low rate of metabolic activity (Pearle et al. 2005 ). The tissue is maintained by a single specialised cell, the chondrocyte (Buckwalter et al. 1999 ), and is comprised of a highly organised matrix with a large extracellular matrix (ECM) to cell volume ratio. The basic structure is composed of a 3D collagen scaffold and aggregating proteoglycans (Jeffery et al. 1991 ). The arrangement, direction and location of these collagen fibrils vary, along with the cell density, matrix composition and overall thickness throughout the tissue, providing different mechanical properties across the joint. The composition of the ECM reflects its mechanical properties such as tensile strength (mainly collagens type II, IX, and XI) and compressive stiffness (such as proteoglycans and aggrecan). Small proteoglycans, including decorin, biglycan and fibromodulin, bind to other matrix macromolecules and thereby help to stabilise the matrix (Buckwalter and Mankin 1998a ). Additionally, collagen type VI and non- collagenous proteins, such as anchorin CII, tenascin and fi bronectin, are important mediators of cell–matrix interactions (Poole et al. 2001 ). The ECM acts as a signal transducer for the chondrocytes, creating mechanical, electrical and physicochemical signals that help to direct the synthetic and degradative activity of chondrocytes (Buckwalter and Mankin 1998a ). Articular cartilage is divided into four zones: the superficial (tangential), transitional, radial and calcifi ed (Eyre 2002 ). The physical and biochemical differences between the zones are important to allow the cartilage to resist both extrinsic and intrinsic forces due to mechanical stress and swelling in the proteoglycan- rich areas (Knudson and Knudson 2001 ). Cartilage tissue contains a large proportion of water (65–80 % by wet weight). Chondrocytes comprise approximately 5–10 % of the tissue total volume and collagens form 10–30 %, whilst proteoglycans and other molecules consist of 5–10 % of the tissue wet weight (Eyre 2002 ; Archer et al. 2003a ; Bhosale and Richardson 2008 ; Hunziker et al. 2007 ).

    R Lewis, KE Asplin, G Bruce, C Dart, A Mobasheri, R Barrett-Jolley (2011)The Role of the Membrane Potential in Chondrocyte Volume Regulation, In: JOURNAL OF CELLULAR PHYSIOLOGY226(11)pp. 2979-2986 WILEY-BLACKWELL
    R Barrett-Jolley, R Lewis, R Fallman, A Mobasheri (2010)The emerging chondrocyte channelome, In: FRONTIERS IN PHYSIOLOGY1UNSP 1 FRONTIERS RESEARCH FOUNDATION

    Chondrocytes are the resident cells of articular cartilage and are responsible for synthesizing a range of collagenous and non-collagenous extracellular matrix macromolecules. Whilst chondrocytes exist at low densities in the tissue (1-10% of the total tissue volume in mature cartilage) they are extremely active cells and are capable of responding to a range of mechanical and biochemical stimuli. These responses are necessary for the maintenance of viable cartilage and may be compromised in inflammatory diseases such as arthritis. Although chondrocytes are non-excitable cells their plasma membrane contains a rich complement of ion channels. This diverse channelome appears to be as complex as one might expect to find in excitable cells although, in the case of chondrocytes, their functions are far less well understood. The ion channels so far identified in chondrocytes include potassium channels (K(ATP), BK, K(v), and SK), sodium channels (epithelial sodium channels, voltage activated sodium channels), transient receptor potential calcium or non-selective cation channels and chloride channels. In this review we describe this emerging channelome and discuss the possible functions of a range of chondrocyte ion channels.

    CA Staunton, R Lewis, R Barrett-Jolley (2013)Ion Channels and Osteoarthritic Pain: Potential for Novel Analgesics, In: CURRENT PAIN AND HEADACHE REPORTS17(12)ARTN 378 SPRINGER
    R Lewis, CH Feetham, R Barrett-Jolley (2011)Cell Volume Regulation in Chondrocytes, In: CELLULAR PHYSIOLOGY AND BIOCHEMISTRY28(6)pp. 1111-1122 KARGER
    A Mobasheri, R Lewis, JEJ Maxwell, C Hill, M Womack, R Barrett-Jolley (2010)Characterization of a Stretch-Activated Potassium Channel in Chondrocytes, In: JOURNAL OF CELLULAR PHYSIOLOGY223(2)pp. 511-518 WILEY-LISS
    A Mobasheri, R Lewis, A Ferreira-Mendes, A Rufino, C Dart, R Barrett-Jolley (2012)Potassium channels in articular chondrocytes, In: CHANNELS6(6)pp. 416-425 LANDES BIOSCIENCE
    R Lewis, CH Feetham, L Gentles, J Penny, L Tregilgas, W Tohami, A Mobasheri, R Barrett-Jolley (2013)Benzamil sensitive ion channels contribute to volume regulation in canine chondrocytes, In: BRITISH JOURNAL OF PHARMACOLOGY168(7)pp. 1584-1596 WILEY-BLACKWELL

    BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Chondrocytes exist within cartilage and serve to maintain the extracellular matrix. It has been postulated that osteoarthritic (OA) chondrocytes lose the ability to regulate their volume, affecting extracellular matrix production. In previous studies, we identified expression of epithelial sodium channels (ENaC) in human chondrocytes, but their function remained unknown. Although ENaC typically has Na(+) transport roles, it is also involved in the cell volume regulation of rat hepatocytes. ENaC is a member of the degenerin (Deg) family, and ENaC/Deg-like channels have a low conductance and high sensitivity to benzamil. In this study, we investigated whether canine chondrocytes express functional ENaC/Deg-like ion channels and, if so, what their function may be. EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: Canine chondrocytes were harvested from dogs killed for unassociated welfare reasons. We used immunohistochemistry and patch-clamp electrophysiology to investigate ENaC expression and video microscopy to analyse the effects of pharmacological inhibition of ENaC/Deg on cell volume regulation. KEY RESULTS: Immunofluorescence showed that canine chondrocytes expressed ENaC protein. Single-channel recordings demonstrated expression of a benzamil-sensitive Na(+) conductance (9 pS), and whole-cell experiments show this to be approximately 1.5 nS per cell with high selectivity for Na(+) . Benzamil hyperpolarized chondrocytes by approximately 8 mV with a pD2 8.4. Chondrocyte regulatory volume decrease (RVI) was inhibited by benzamil (pD2 7.5) but persisted when extracellular Na(+) ions were replaced by Li(+) . CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS: Our data suggest that benzamil inhibits RVI by reducing the influx of Na(+) ions through ENaC/Deg-like ion channels and present ENaC/Deg as a possible target for pharmacological modulation of chondrocyte volume.

    CH Feetham, N Nunn, R Lewis, C Dart, R Barrett-Jolley (2015)TRPV4 and K-Ca ion channels functionally couple as osmosensors in the paraventricular nucleus, In: BRITISH JOURNAL OF PHARMACOLOGY172(7)pp. 1753-1768 WILEY-BLACKWELL
    R Lewis, H May, A Mobasheri, R Barrett-Jolley (2013)Chondrocyte channel transcriptomics Do microarray data fit with expression and functional data?, In: CHANNELS7(6)pp. 459-467 LANDES BIOSCIENCE
    Phuc Van Pham, Rebecca Lewis (2016)Bone and Cartilage Regeneration Springer International Publishing

    This invaluable resource discusses clinical applications with effects and side-effects of applications of stem cells in bone and cartilage regeneration. Each chapter is contributed by a pre-eminent scientist in the field and covers such topics as skeletal regeneration by mesenchymal stem cells, clinical improvement of mesenchymal stem cell injection in injured cartilage and osteoarthritis, Good manufacturing practice (GMP), minimal critera of stem cells for clinical applications, future directions of the discussed therapies and much more. Bone & Cartilage Regeneration and the other books in the Stem Cells in Clinical Applications series will be invaluable to scientists, researchers, advanced students and clinicians working in stem cells, regenerative medicine or tissue engineering.

    G. F. White, C. B. Gómez Álvarez, R. Lewis (2021)Are biologics more effective than corticosteroids for intra‐articular treatment of osteoarthritis?, In: Equine veterinary education33(7)pp. 389-392

    Summary Intra‐articular corticosteroids are an effective treatment for equine osteoarthritis, however, there is increasing evidence for the effectiveness of other treatments such as biologics. Whilst current evidence does support biologics and their use in patients diagnosed with osteoarthritis, there remains to be a lack of evidence regarding their long‐term outcomes and the efficacy of their use as a treatment, especially when compared to corticosteroids. This paper reviewed the evidence comparing intra‐articular corticosteroids and biologics in the treatment of equine osteoarthritis and found that whilst they are both effective treatments, more evidence directly comparing them is required.

    Roland Takacs, Patrik Kovacs, Rana Abdelsattar Ebeid, Janos Almassy, Janos Fodor, Laszlo Ducza, Richard Barrett-Jolley, Rebecca Lewis, Csaba Matta (2023)Ca2+-Activated K+ Channels in Progenitor Cells of Musculoskeletal Tissues: A Narrative Review, In: International journal of molecular sciences24(7) Mdpi

    Musculoskeletal disorders represent one of the main causes of disability worldwide, and their prevalence is predicted to increase in the coming decades. Stem cell therapy may be a promising option for the treatment of some of the musculoskeletal diseases. Although significant progress has been made in musculoskeletal stem cell research, osteoarthritis, the most-common musculoskeletal disorder, still lacks curative treatment. To fine-tune stem-cell-based therapy, it is necessary to focus on the underlying biological mechanisms. Ion channels and the bioelectric signals they generate control the proliferation, differentiation, and migration of musculoskeletal progenitor cells. Calcium- and voltage-activated potassium (K-Ca) channels are key players in cell physiology in cells of the musculoskeletal system. This review article focused on the big conductance (BK) K-Ca channels. The regulatory function of BK channels requires interactions with diverse sets of proteins that have different functions in tissue-resident stem cells. In this narrative review article, we discuss the main ion channels of musculoskeletal stem cells, with a focus on calcium-dependent potassium channels, especially on the large conductance BK channel. We review their expression and function in progenitor cell proliferation, differentiation, and migration and highlight gaps in current knowledge on their involvement in musculoskeletal diseases.

    Federico Bertagna, Rebecca Lewis, S. Ravi P. Silva, Johnjoe McFadden, Kamalan Jeevaratnam (2021)Effects of electromagnetic fields on neuronal ion channels: a systematic review, In: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences1499(1)pp. 82-103 Wiley

    Many aspects of chemistry and biology are mediated by electromagnetic field (EMF) interactions. The central nervous system (CNS) is particularly sensitive to EMF stimuli. Studies have explored the direct effect of different EMFs on the electrical properties of neurons in the last two decades, particularly focusing on the role of voltage-gated ion channels (VGCs). This work aims to systematically review published evidence in the last two decades detailing the effects of EMFs on neuronal ion channels as per the PRISM guidelines. Following a predetermined exclusion and inclusion criteria, 22 papers were included after searches on three online databases. Changes in calcium homeostasis, attributable to the voltage-gated calcium channels, were found to be the most commonly reported result of EMF exposure. EMF effects on the neuronal landscape appear to be diverse and greatly dependent on parameters, such as the field's frequency, exposure time, and intrinsic properties of the irradiated tissue, such as the expression of VGCs. Here, we systematically clarify how neuronal ion channels are particularly affected and differentially modulated by EMFs at multiple levels, such as gating dynamics, ion conductance, concentration in the membrane, and gene and protein expression. Ion channels represent a major transducer for EMF-related effects on the CNS.

    Rula Abdallat, EMILY JANE KRUCHEK, Csaba Matta, REBECCA LEWIS, FATIMA LABEED (2021)Dielectrophoresis as a Tool to Reveal the Potential Role of Ion Channels and Early Electrophysiological Changes in Osteoarthritis, In: Micromachines12(8)949 MDPI

    Diseases such as osteoarthritis (OA) are commonly characterized at the molecular scale by gene expression and subsequent protein production; likewise, the effects of pharmaceutical interventions are typically characterized by the effects of molecular interactions. However, these phenomena are usually preceded by numerous precursor steps, many of which involve significant ion influx or efflux. As a consequence, rapid assessment of cell electrophysiology could play a significant role in unravelling the mechanisms underlying drug interactions and progression of diseases, such as OA. In this study, we used dielectrophoresis (DEP), a technique that allows rapid, label-free determination of the dielectric parameters to assess the role of potassium ions on the dielectric characteristics of chondrocytes, and to investigate the electrophysiological differences between healthy chondrocytes and those from an in vitro arthritic disease model. Our results showed that DEP was able to detect a significant decrease in membrane conductance (6191 ± 738 vs. 8571 ± 1010 S/m2), membrane capacitance (10.3 ± 1.47 vs. 14.5 ± 0.01 mF/m2), and whole cell capacitance (5.4 ± 0.7 vs. 7.5 ± 0.3 pF) following inhibition of potassium channels using 10 mM tetraethyl ammonium, compared to untreated healthy chondrocytes. Moreover, cells from the OA model had a different response to DEP force in comparison to healthy cells; this was seen in terms of both a decreased membrane conductivity (782 S/m2 vs. 1139 S/m2) and a higher whole cell capacitance (9.58 ± 3.4 vs. 3.7 ± 1.3 pF). The results show that DEP offers a high throughput method, capable of detecting changes in membrane electrophysiological properties and differences between disease states.

    Csaba Matta, Rebecca Lewis, Christopher Fellows, Gyula Diszhazi, Janos Almassy, Nicolai Miosge, James Dixon, Marcos C Uribe, Sean May, Szilard Poliska, Richard Barrett-Jolley, Janos Fodor, Peter Szentesi, Tibor Hajdú, Aniko Keller-Pinter, Erin Henslee, Fatima H Labeed, Michael P Hughes, Ali Mobasheri (2021)Transcriptome-based screening of ion channels and transporters in a migratory chondroprogenitor cell line isolated from late-stage osteoarthritic cartilage, In: Journal of cellular physiology Wiley

    Chondrogenic progenitor cells (CPCs) may be used as an alternative source of cells with potentially superior chondrogenic potential compared to mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), and could be exploited for future regenerative therapies targeting articular cartilage in degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis (OA). In this study, we hypothesised that CPCs derived from OA cartilage may be characterised by a distinct channelome. First, a global transcriptomic analysis using Affymetrix microarrays was performed. We studied the profiles of those ion channels and transporter families that may be relevant to chondroprogenitor cell physiology. Following validation of the microarray data with quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, we examined the role of calcium-dependent potassium channels in CPCs and observed functional large-conductance calcium-activated potassium (BK) channels involved in the maintenance of the chondroprogenitor phenotype. In line with our very recent results, we found that the KCNMA1 gene was upregulated in CPCs and observed currents that could be attributed to the BK channel. The BK channel inhibitor paxilline significantly inhibited proliferation, increased the expression of the osteogenic transcription factor RUNX2, enhanced the migration parameters, and completely abolished spontaneous Ca events in CPCs. Through characterisation of their channelome we demonstrate that CPCs are a distinct cell population but are highly similar to MSCs in many respects. This study adds key mechanistic data to the in-depth characterisation of CPCs and their phenotype in the context of cartilage regeneration.

    Katrín Lind Elídóttir, Louie Scott, Rebecca Lewis, Izabela Jurewicz (2022)Biomimetic approach to articular cartilage tissue engineering using carbon nanotube–coated and textured polydimethylsiloxane scaffolds, In: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences Wiley

    There is a significant need to understand the complexity and heterogeneity of articular cartilage to develop more effective therapeutic strategies for diseases such as osteoarthritis. Here, we show that carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are excellent candidates as a material for synthetic scaffolds to support the growth of chondrocytes—the cells that produce and maintain cartilage. Chondrocyte morphology, proliferation, and alignment were investigated as nanoscale CNT networks were applied to macroscopically textured polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) scaffolds. The application of CNTs to the surface of PDMS-based scaffolds resulted in an up to 10-fold increase in cell adherence and 240% increase in proliferation, which is attributable to increased nanoscale roughness and hydrophilicity. The introduction of macroscale features to PDMS induced alignment of chondrocytes, successfully mimicking the cell behavior observed in the superficial layer of cartilage. Raman spectroscopy was used as a noninvasive, label-free method to monitor extracellular matrix production and chondrocyte phenotype. Chondrocytes on these scaffolds successfully produced collagen, glycosaminoglycan, and aggrecan. This study demonstrates that introducing physical features at different length scales allows for a high level of control over tissue scaffold design and, thus, cell behavior. Ultimately, these textured scaffolds can serve as platforms to improve the understanding of osteoarthritis and for early-stage therapeutic testing.

    Cédric Vallée, Brendan Howlin, Rebecca Lewis (2021)Ion Selectivity in the ENaC/DEG Family: A Systematic Review with Supporting Analysis, In: International journal of molecular sciences22(20)10998 MDPI

    The Epithelial Sodium Channel/Degenerin (ENaC/DEG) family is a superfamily of sodium-selective channels that play diverse and important physiological roles in a wide variety of animal species. Despite their differences, they share a high homology in the pore region in which the ion discrimination takes place. Although ion selectivity has been studied for decades, the mechanisms underlying this selectivity for trimeric channels, and particularly for the ENaC/DEG family, are still poorly understood. This systematic review follows PRISMA guidelines and aims to determine the main components that govern ion selectivity in the ENaC/DEG family. In total, 27 papers from three online databases were included according to specific exclusion and inclusion criteria. It was found that the G/SxS selectivity filter (glycine/serine, non-conserved residue, serine) and other well conserved residues play a crucial role in ion selectivity. Depending on the ion type, residues with different properties are involved in ion permeability. For lithium against sodium, aromatic residues upstream of the selectivity filter seem to be important, whereas for sodium against potassium, negatively charged residues downstream of the selectivity filter seem to be important. This review provides new perspectives for further studies to unravel the mechanisms of ion selectivity.

    CH Feetham, R Lewis, R Barrett-Jolley (2013)TRPV4 and KCa: Modelling the Perfect Couple?, In: BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL104(2)pp. 163A-163A
    R Lewis, L Gentles, R Barrett-Jolley (2012)Contribution of the Epithelial Sodium Channel to Chondrocyte Regulatory Volume Increase, In: BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL102(3)pp. 681A-681A
    R Lewis, R Barrett-Jolley (2014)Ion channel modulation of chondrocyte cell volume regulation, In: FASEB JOURNAL28(1) FEDERATION AMER SOC EXP BIOL
    R Lewis, G Purves, J Crossley, R Barrett-Jolley (2010)Modelling the Membrane Potential Dependence on Non-Specific Cation Channels in Canine Articular Chondrocytes, In: BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL98(3)pp. 339A-339A CELL PRESS