James M. Kang, PhD

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James KangAssistant Professor
McGuire Hall, Room 313
1112 East Clay Street
Richmond, VA 23229-0613
Phone: (804) 828-2064
Email: james.kang@vcuhealth.org



  • KonKuk University, Seoul, Korea 2003

Research interests

  • Molecular biology and pharmacology of the gastrointestinal system

The overall focus of my research is on the molecular biology and pharmacology of the gastrointestinal system. The main focus of my research is to understanding the molecular basis of signaling mechanisms that control smooth muscle function during inflammation. I am particular focused on changes in ion channel function associated with colonic inflammation.

1. My research interest is focus on the role of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in ulcerative colitis. The aim of this study is to determine the effects and mechanisms of action of H2S on KATP channels in the smooth muscle of mouse colon in inflammation. My finding demonstrates the possibility of hydrogen sulfide as protective modulator in the regulation of contractile activity in the smooth muscle of mouse colon through S-sulfhydration of the KATP channel in inflammation. Main techniques employed: molecular biology, cell biology, biochemistry, electrophysiology, and pharmacology.

2. The second research project that I am working on is about the study of the etiology and pathogenesis of alpha-synuclein in the neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD). I use a multidisciplinary approach that includes biochemical and molecular studies of neuronal culture systems as well as animal models in the laboratory to address these research issues. Recent pathological studies suggest that the enteric nervous system (ENS) is one of the initial sites of alpha-synuclein pathology in PD. My recent preliminary studies shown that pathological alpha-synuclein aggregates, known as Lewy’s body (LBs), present in primary enteric neuronal cells of mice. This deserves further investigation into the role of the ENS of alpha-synuclein in the pathophysiology of PD. This research will open up new avenues of research to identify targets for drug discovery to develop better treatments for these disorders.

3. Other research project that I am interested is the study of morphine tolerance to elucidate the mechanisms that leads to the lack of morphine-induced tolerance in the colon. Our findings demonstrate that down-regulation of b-Arrestin in the colon may preclude development of morphine tolerance.

Mini-core center for Molecular & Cellular Biology (mMCB):

The mini-core center for molecular & cellular biology (mMCB) facility has been created through resources provided by the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology. The mMCB is housed within the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology. The primary purpose of the mMCB is to provide expertise and experience in cellular & molecular techniques, which would be useful to investigators in our department not familiar with these techniques and would benefit from having someone with this expertise either set up the procedure in your laboratory or carry-out experiments not currently being used. It is available for consultation, instruction, assistance and collaboration. Feel free to contact mMCB directly by e-mail or by phone at 804-828-2064 to see if there are ways we could benefit your research program.

Selected publications

Minho Kang, Atsushi Hashimoto, Aravind Gade, and Hamid Akbarali. Interaction between sulfhydration and tyrosine nitration in the KATP channel complex. American Journal of Physiology – Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology. 2014. (In press)

Joy Ngwainmbi, Dipanjana Datta De, Tricia Smith, Nazira El-Hage, Sylvia Fitting, Minho Kang, William Dewey, Kurt Hauser, and Hamid Akbarali. Effects of HIV-1 Tat on enteric neuropathogenesis. The Journal of Neuroscience. 2014. (In press)

Sylvia Fitting, Joy Ngwainmbi, Minho Kang, Pamela E. Knapp, Kurt F. Hauser, and Hamid I. Akbarali. HIV-1 Tat increases neuronal sensitivity to morphine in enteric neurons. 2014. (Submitted to Neurogastroenterology and Motility)

Matthew F. Lazenka, Minho Kang, Dipanjana Datta, , Dana E. Selley and Laura J. Sim-Selley. Repeated ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol treatment enhances Cdk5 signaling and alters FosB and ∆FosB induction in the PFC. 2014. (Submitted to Biological Psychiatry)

Dipanjana Datta De, Minho Kang, Joy Ngwainmbi, Aravind Gade, Sukhada Bhave, William L. Dewey and Hamid I Akbarali. Role of β-arrestin2 in the differential regulation by morphine of μ-opioid receptors in mouse ileum and colon. In writing.

Aravind R. Gade, Minho Kang, and Hamid I. Akbarali. Hydrogen Sulfide as an Allosteric modulator of ATP Sensitive Potassium Channels in Colonic Inflammation. Molecular Pharmacology. 2013 Jan;83(1):294-306. Epub 2012 Oct 31.

Galya Abdrakhmanova, Minho Kang, M. Damaj, and Hamid Akbarali. Nicotine suppresses hyperexcitability of colonic sensory neurons and visceral hypersensitivity in mouse model of colonic inflammation. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2012 Apr;302(7):G740-7. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00411.2011. Epub 2012 Jan 12.

Kang Minho, Hercules T. Maguma, Tricia H. Smith, Gracious R. Ross, William L. Dewey, and Hamid I. Akbarali. The Role of β-Arrestin2 in the Mechanism of Morphine Tolerance in the Mouse and Guinea Pig Gastrointestinal Track. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2012 Mar;340(3):567-76. Epub 2011 Nov 30.

Hamid I. Akbarali, Edward G. Hawkins, Gracious R. Ross and Minho Kang. Ion channel remodeling in gastrointestinal inflammation. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2010 Oct;22(10):1045-55. Epub 2010 Jul 5.

Galya R. Abdrakhmanova, Shakir Alsharari, Minho Kang, M. Imad Damaj and Hamid I. Akbarali. alpha7-nAChR-mediated suppression of hyperexcitability of colonic dorsal root ganglia neurons in experimental colitis. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 299(3):G761-8, 2010.

Gracious Ross, Minho Kang, and Hamid Akbarali. Colonic inflammation alters Src kinase -dependent gating properties of single Ca2+ channels via tyrosine nitration. American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology. 299(2):G548, 2010.