Sonal Srikanth, Ph.D

Position Title:
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Physiology
Member: UCLA CTSI (Clinical and Translational Science Institute)
link to my CV (PDF)
Office: 53-266A CHS
Phone: 310-794-2003
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Dr. Srikanth is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Physiology in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Dr. Srikanth obtained her Ph.D from NCBS, Bangalore under the guidance of Dr. Gaiti Hasan in characterizing the biophysical properties of the Drosophila melanogaster Inositol 1, 4, 5 trisphosphate receptor (InsP3R). During her Ph.D. she spent a year in Dr. Ilya Bezprozvanny's lab at UT Southwestern Medical center performing lipid bilayer experiments to examine the single channel properties of the Drosophila InsP3R. She then joined Dr. Anjana Rao's laboratory, then at Harvard Medical School and performed a genome-wide Drosophila RNAi screen with Dr. Yousang Gwack, which led to the identification of Orai1 as a critical component of the Ca2+ release-activated Ca2+ (CRAC) channels in immune cells. She further continued her research on Orai proteins in Yousang's lab at UCLA, first as a postdoctoral scholar and subsequently as an Assistant Research Physiologist.

Research Interests:

Regulation of Orai/STIM-mediated store-operated Ca2+ entry in immune cells: Using proteomics and genomics tools we have identified several mechanisms regulating store-operated Ca2+ entry in immune cells. One such class of novel regulators comprise of large Rab GTPases including CRACR2A (CRAC channel regulator 2A), Rab44 and Rab45 proteins. Unlike canonical Rab GTPases which are ~20 KDa in size, these large Rab GTPases range in size from 75-110 KDa and contain Ca2+-binding EF hands and many protein interaction motifs. We are currently examining the role of these novel large Rab GTPases in proximal T cell receptor signaling pathways.

Role of Orai/STIM-mediated signaling in regulation of innate immune responses: Recently we have identified a novel role of Orai/STIM proteins in regulation of innate immune responses. Using genetic tools of tissue-specific Orai/STIM knockout animals, we are dissecting the function of these molecules in host immune responses and autoimmune disorders.


2014 Outstanding Tutor Award, PBL Block I
2013 Outstanding Tutor Award, PBL Block I
2012 Outstanding Tutor Award, PBL Block I
2012 Scientist Development grant from the American Heart Association
2010 “Boyer-Peter Award” for excellence in postdoctoral research.
2010 Nominee for Chancellor’s award for excellence in postdoctoral research
2009 Postdoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association to understand the role of Orai1 in heart function.
2002 Travel Fellowship from the “Journal of Cell Science” to conduct a collaborative project in Dr. Ilya Bezprozvanny’s lab at UT Southwestern Medical Centre, Dallas in 2002.
2000-2003 “TIFR Alumni Association Scholarship for Career Development” during Graduate studies for four consecutive years 2000-2003.
1998 CSIR fellowship for Graduate Studies 1998 M.S. First Rank - Gold Medalist

Representative Publications:

  1. Srikanth S, Wang Z, Nair S, Tu H, Mathew MK, Hasan G, and Bezprozvanny I. Functional properties of the Drosophila melanogaster inositol 1,4,5 trisphosphate receptor mutants. Biophysical Journal. 2004, 86, 3634-3646. PMID: 15189860
  2. Feske S*, Gwack Y*, Prakriya M, Srikanth S, Puppel S, Tanasa B, Hogan PG, Lewis RS, Daly M and Rao A. A mutation in Orai1 causes immune deficiency by abrogating store-operated Ca2+ entry and CRAC channel function. Nature. 2006, 441(7090), 179-185. PMID: 16582901.
  3. Gwack Y*, Srikanth S*, Feske S, Cruz-Guilloty F, Oh-hora M, Neems DS, Hogan PG, Rao A. Biochemical and functional characterization of Orai proteins. J Biol Chem. 2007 Jun 1;282(22):16232-43. *Equal Contribution. PMID: 17293345.
  4. Gwack Y*, Srikanth S*, Oh-hora M*, Hogan PG, Lamperti E, Yamashita M, Gelinas C, Neems DS, Sasaki Y, Feske S, Prakriya M, Rajewsky K, Rao A. Hair loss and defective T- and B-cell function in mice lacking Orai1. Molecular and Cellular Biology. 2008 Sep 28;28(17):5209-22. *Equal Contribution. PMID: 18591248.
  5. Srikanth S, Jung HJ, Kim KD, Souda P, Whitelegge J, Gwack Y. A novel EF-hand protein, CRACR2A, is a cytosolic Ca2+ sensor that stabilizes CRAC channels in T cells. Nature Cell Biology, 2010, May;12(5):436-46. PMID: 20418871
  6. Srikanth S, Jew M, Kim KD, Yee MK, Abramson J, Gwack Y. Junctate is a Ca2+-sensing structural component of Orai1 and STIM1 clustering site at the proximal plasma membrane. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012, May 29; 109(22):8682-7. PMID: 22586105.
  7. Woo JS*, Srikanth S*, Nishi M, Ping P, Takeshima H, Gwack Y. Junctophilin-4, a component of the endoplasmic reticulum – plasma membrane junctions, regulates Ca2+ dynamics in T cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2016 March 8; 113(10):2762-7. PMID: 26929330. *Equal Contribution.
  8. Srikanth S*,#, Kim KD*, Gao Y, Woo JS, Ghosh S, Paz A, Abramson J, Jiang M, and Gwack Y#. A large Rab GTPase encoded by CRACR2A is a component of subsynaptic vesicles that transmit T cell activation signals. Science Signaling, 2016 Mar 22; 9(420): ra31. PMID 27016526. *Equal contribution, #Corresponding authors.
  9. Srikanth S*, Woo JS, and Gwack Y. A large Rab GTPase family in a small GTPase world. Small GTPases. 2016, May 24: 0. PMID: 27221160. * Corresponding author.