Anna Lee, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology


Research Interests:

The goal of my research is to elucidate the molecular basis of behavior. My lab studies the molecular mechanisms of addiction and the role of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in affective disorders.  We use genetic, molecular, pharmacological and behavioral tools in mouse models of drug addiction and depression.

We focus on the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), which are widely expressed ligand-gated ion channels that modulate neurotransmission. nAChRs are found on many different types of neurons in the brain and are implicated in addiction, anxiety and depression.  Our goal is to identify how regulation of nAChRs affects receptor function and behavior.  Our main research focus is co-morbid alcohol and nicotine addiction.  Alcohol and nicotine are two commonly used drugs, and addiction to both drugs is very prevalent.  Alcohol and nicotine addiction have overlapping molecular mechanisms, and identifying these mechanisms will enable us to understand why these drugs are co-abused and to identify new molecular targets for treatment.

Selected Publications:

(For a comprehensive list of recent publications, refer to PubMed, a service provided by the National Library of Medicine.)

Lee AM, Wu D-F, Dadgar J, Wang D, McMahon T and RO Messing. Protein kinase C epsilon phosphorylates α4β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and promotes recovery from desensitization. Br J Pharmacol, 2015, Sept, 172(17):430-41.

Lee AM, Zou ME, Lim JP, Stecher J, McMahon T and RO Messing.  Deletion of Prkcz increases intermittent ethanol consumption in mice.  Alcohol Clin Exp Res, 2014, Jan, 38(1):170-8.

Lee AM, Kanter BR, Wang D, Lim JP, Zou ME, Qiu C, McMahon T, Dadgar J, Fischbach-Weiss SC and RO Messing.  Prkcz null mice show normal learning and memory.  Nature, 2013, Jan 17, 493(7432):416-9. 

Lee AM and RO Messing.  Protein kinase C epsilon modulates nicotine consumption and dopamine reward signals in the nucleus accumbens.  Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2011, Sept 20; 108(38):16080-5.  

Lee AM, Jepson C, Hoffmann E, Epstein L, Hawk LW, Lerman C and RF Tyndale.  Increased efficacy of bupropion smoking cessation therapy with the altered bupropion metabolism allele CYP2B6*6.  Biol Psychiatry, 2007, Sep 15; 62(6):635-41.

Lee AM, Miksys S, Palmour R and RF Tyndale.  CYP2B6 is expressed in African Green monkey brain and is induced by chronic nicotine treatment.  Neuropharmacology, 2006, Mar; 50(4):441-450.

Lee AM, Miksys S and RF Tyndale. Phenobarbital increases monkey in vivo nicotine metabolism and induces liver and brain CYP2B6 protein.  Br J Pharmacol, 2006, Jul;148(6):786-794. 

Lee AM, Yue J and RF Tyndale. In vivo and in vitro characterization of chlorzoxazone metabolism and hepatic CYP2E1 levels in African Green monkeys; induction by chronic nicotine treatment.  Drug Metab Dispos, 2006, Sept; 34(9):1508-1515.

Current Graduate Students:

Janna Moen (Neuroscience, University of Minnesota)

Anna Lee