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Alan F. Lau, PhD

Alan F. Lau, PhD

Alan F. Lau, PhD
  • Affiliate Member
    University of Hawaii Cancer Center
  • Academic Appointments

  • Researcher (Professor)
    University of Hawaii Cancer Center
    University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • Professor
    Department of Cell and Molecular Biology
    John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii at Manoa


  • PhD, Pharmacology
    University of Michigan

Research Focus

Dr. Lau's laboratory is currently focused on the regulation of gap junctions by tyrosine protein kinases and novel, interacting cellular proteins. Gap junctions are one of four major types of intercellular junctions that are involved in establishing intercellular adhesion and communication. Gap junctions are unique because they enable the direct interchange of small molecules (<1000 daltons) between the cytoplasms of adjacent cells. This activity provides a form of intercellular signaling that is essential for the proper functioning of a variety of normal tissues.

Hexameric complexes of connexins (connexons or hemichannels) in adjacent cell plasma membranes create intact gap junctions by the docking of the connexons across the extracellular space. There are twenty one connexin genes in the human genome, which encode the connexin proteins. Connexins are embedded in the plasma membrane by four transmembrane domains, which create two extracellular regions and three intracellular, cytoplasmically-located domains (see Figure 2). The C-terminal, cytoplasmic region of connexins often contains sites and/or elements that mediate the regulation or signaling capabilities of gap junctions. Dr. Lau and colleagues currently work in the Center laboratories located in the Biosciences Building on the School of Medicine campus in Kakaako, near the ocean in Honolulu. The lab's research has been supported over the years by grants from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health (5 RO1 CA052098-18) and the American Heart Association.