Nicholas P Franks

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The mechanisms through which general anaesthetics, an extremely diverse group of drugs, cause reversible loss of consciousness have been a long-standing mystery. Gradually, a relatively small number of important molecular targets have emerged, and how these drugs act at the molecular level is becoming clearer. Finding the link between these molecular(More)
General anaesthetics are much more selective than is usually appreciated and may act by binding to only a small number of targets in the central nervous system. At surgical concentrations their principal effects are on ligand-gated (rather than voltage-gated) ion channels, with potentiation of postsynaptic inhibitory channel activity best fitting the(More)
Human serum albumin (HSA) is the most abundant protein in the circulatory system. Its principal function is to transport fatty acids, but it is also capable of binding a great variety of metabolites and drugs. Despite intensive efforts, the detailed structural basis of fatty acid binding to HSA has remained elusive. We have now determined the crystal(More)
We investigated the role of regionally discrete GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors in the sedative response to pharmacological agents that act on GABA(A) receptors (muscimol, propofol and pentobarbital; 'GABAergic agents') and to ketamine, a general anesthetic that does not affect GABA(A) receptors. Behavioral studies in rats showed that the sedative(More)
Although general anesthetics are often said to be nonspecific agents, it is likely that they act at a much more restricted set of target sites than commonly believed. The traditional view has been that the primary targets are lipid portions of nerve membranes, but recent evidence shows that the effects on lipid bilayers of clinically relevant levels of(More)
BACKGROUND When performing experiments at room temperature with volatile general anesthetics and in vitro mammalian preparations (such as isolated neurons), the question arises as to which concentrations of anesthetics are "clinically relevant." Different choices can lead to different interpretations of the anesthetic sensitivities of putative target sites.(More)
The "trace" elements copper and zinc are essential for life, and their role in the function of metalloproteins is well known. However, mounting evidence shows that these metals are also capable of modulating neuronal excitability under normal physiological conditions. They are present at high levels in the brain, are concentrated at nerve terminals, and are(More)
BACKGROUND The authors investigated whether the sedative, or hypnotic, action of the general anesthetic dexmedetomidine (a selective alpha -adrenoceptor agonist) activates endogenous nonrapid eye movement (NREM) sleep-promoting pathways. METHODS c-Fos expression in sleep-promoting brain nuclei was assessed in rats using immunohistochemistry and(More)
BACKGROUND Firefly luciferase is a 62 kDa protein that catalyzes the production of light. In the presence of MgATP and molecular oxygen, the enzyme oxidizes its substrate, firefly luciferin, emitting yellow-green light. The reaction proceeds through activation of the substrate to form an adenylate intermediate. Firefly luciferase shows extensive sequence(More)
Human serum albumin possesses multiple fatty acid binding sites of varying affinities, but the precise locations of these sites have remained elusive. The determination of the crystal structure of human serum albumin complexed with myristic acid recently revealed the positions and architecture of six binding sites on the protein. While the structure of the(More)