Leigh Plant

Leigh Plant


Assistant Professor; Director of BS in Pharmaceutical Sciences/Minor in Pharmaceutical Sciences

Pharmaceutical Sciences


Sodium channels; acute hypoxia; SUMOylation; PIP2


The Plant Lab studies how dysregulation of ion channel activity causes disease in humans, including cardiac arrhythmia, sudden infant death syndrome, epilepsy, pain, and muscle paralysis. Our multidisciplinary research philosophy integrates electrophysiology, super resolution TIRF microscopy, spectroscopy, cryo-EM and optogenetic tools. By integrating these tools, we identify news mechanisms of disease, and potential druggable targets in excitable tissues of the body. Our laboratory promotes a supportive scientific environment for researchers at all levels of their training and has a robust track record of collaboration to tackle complex problems in biomedical science.

Courses Taught

Introduction to Contemporary Pharmaceutical Sciences (PHSC 1001)
Lab Research Rotation (PHSC 2100)
Introduction to Health Science Research (PHSC 2650)
Principles of Pharmacology & Medicinal Chemistry (PHSC 3802)
Principles of Pharmacology & Medicinal Chemistry 2 (PHSC3802)
Practicum (PHSC 4995)
Senior Thesis (PHSC 4997)
Senior Thesis Continuation (PHSC 4998)
Integrated Sciences and Therapeutics 1 (PHSC 5110)
Integrated Science and Therapeutics 2 (PHSC 5115)
Integrated Science and Therapeutics 3 (PHSC 5205)
Human Physiology and Pathophysiology (PHSC 6216)
Ion Channel Physiology and Pharmacology (PMCL 6250)
Small-Molecule Ligand Pharmacology (PMCL 6252)


NIH-NHLBI, R01: SUMO regulation of cardiac ion channels

NIG-NINGS, R01: Dravel Syndrome anti-epileptic control by targeting GIRK channels.

DoD: Integrative Lymphatic Muscle Cell Biology for the Treatment of Lymphatic Diseases


Beta-Tau Chapter of the Rho Chi Pharmacy Society
Gerald Schumacher Pharmacy Faculty Award, NU SOPPS
Teaching Excellence Award, NU SOPPS
IUPHAR/BPS Guide to Pharmacology for K2P channels Cranefield Award: The Society General Physiologists

Select Publications

PI(4,5)P2 regulates the gating of NaV1.4 channels. Gada KD, Kamuene JM, Chandrashekar A, Kissell RC, Yauch AK, Plant LD. J Gen Physiol. 2023 Jun 5;155(6):e202213255. doi: 10.1085/jgp.202213255. Epub 2023 Apr 12. PMID: 37043561.

Optogenetic dephosphorylation of phosphatidylinositol 4,5 bisphosphate in Xenopus laevis oocytes. Gada KD, Xu Y, Winn BT, Masotti M, Kawano T, Vaananen H, Plant LD. STAR Protoc. 2023 Mar 17;4(1):102003. doi: 10.1016/j.xpro.2022.102003. Epub 2023 Jan 11. PMID: 36633950. 

Imaging Membrane Proteins Using Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence Microscopy (TIRFM) in Mammalian Cells. Gada KD, Kamuene JM, Kawano T, Plant LD. Bio Protoc. 2023 Feb 20;13(4):e4614. doi: 10.21769/BioProtoc.4614. eCollection 2023 Feb 20. PMID: 36845531.

Hypoxia inhibits the cardiac IK1 current through SUMO targeting Kir2.1 activation by PIP2. Xu Y, Yang Y, Chandrashekar A, Gada KD, Masotti M, Baggetta AM, Connolly JG, Kawano T, Plant LD. iScience. 2022 Aug 17;25(9):104969. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2022.104969. eCollection 2022 Sep 16. PMID: 36060074.

Preferential Gs protein coupling of the galanin Gal1 receptor in the µ-opioid-Gal1 receptor heterotetramer. De Oliveira PA, Moreno E, Casajuana-Martin N, Casadó-Anguera V, Cai NS, Camacho-Hernandez GA, Zhu H, Bonifazi A, Hall MD, Weinshenker D, Newman AH, Logothetis DE, Casadó V, Plant LD, Pardo L, Ferré S. Pharmacol Res. 2022 Aug;182:106322. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2022.106322. Epub 2022 Jun 22. PMID: 35750299.

Hypoxia Produces Pro-arrhythmic Late Sodium Current in Cardiac Myocytes by SUMOylation of NaV1.5 Channels. Plant LD, Xiong D, Romero J, Dai H, Goldstein SAN. Cell Rep. 2020 Feb 18;30(7):2225-2236.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.01.025. PMID: 32075761.

SUMOylation silences heterodimeric TASK potassium channels containing K2P1 subunits in cerebellar granule neurons. Plant LD, Zuniga L, Araki D, Marks JD, Goldstein SA. Sci Signal. 2012 Nov 20;5(251):ra84. doi: 10.1126/scisignal.2003431. PMID: 23169818. 9. 7.

A common cardiac sodium channel variant associated with sudden infant death in African Americans, SCN5A S1103Y. Plant LD, Bowers PN, Liu Q, Morgan T, Zhang T, State MW, Chen W, Kittles RA, Goldstein SA. J Clin Invest. 2006 Feb;116(2):430-5. doi: 10.1172/JCI25618. PMID: 16453024 

SUMOylation silences the plasma membrane leak K+ channel K2P1. Rajan S, Plant LD, Rabin ML, Butler MH, Goldstein SA. Cell. 2005 Apr 8;121(1):37-47. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2005.01.019. PMID: 15820677