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Emmanuel Awumey
Assistant Professor

Tel: 919 530-7644
Fax: 919 530-6815

  • CV
  • Research Interests
  • Publications
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Research Description

The focus of my research is to investigate the mechanism of the perivascular nerve Ca2+-sensing receptor (CaR)-mediated vasodilation and its modulation by hypertension. Earlier studies indicate that extracellular calcium (Ca2+e) induced relaxation of isolated mesenteric resistance arteries pre-contracted with phenylephrine. This process is dependent on an intact perivascular sensory nerve network. We hypothesized that elevation of Ca2+e in the interstitial compartment activates the sensory nerve CaR and leads to the production and release of a vasodilator compound(s) that induce relaxation. We have also shown that mesenteric arteries from salt-sensitive rats and mice expressing the heterozygous receptor (CaR+/-) have impaired Ca2+e-induced relaxation suggesting a defect in the CaR signaling pathway in these animals. Therefore, understanding the Ca2+e-induced signaling mechanism of CaR and its modulation by salt and hypertension is important in identifying this receptor as a target for the development of new anti-hypertensive therapy.

We employ state-of-the-art biochemical, pharmacological and molecular biology techniques to characterize the signal transduction mechanisms of this novel receptor, expressed as a green fluorescent (EGFP) fusion protein, that lead to vasodilation. These studies may lead to the understanding of the molecular mechanisms linking Ca2+ homeostasis and vascular function. Our findings may provide the basis for the development of novel pharmacologic means of regulating blood pressure that could have significant impact on minority populations in particular.


Laboratory Personnel



1.     Lakeesha E. Bridges                           Research Technician

2.     Cicely L. Williams                                Research Technician



1.     Nicole Villanueva                                Undergraduate Student

2.     Samora Rugumamu                          Graduate Student

3.   Linda Okeiyi                                        Graduate Student


Publications by Emmanuel M Awumey


Earlier publications: Derfoul A, Lin FJ, Awumey EM, Kolodzeski T, Hall DJ, Tuan RS. Estrogenic endocrine disruptive components interfere with calcium handling and differentiation of human trophoblast cells. J. Cell Biochem 89: 755-770, 2003.

Wang Y, Awumey EK, Chatterjee PK, Somasundaram C, Bian K, Rogers KV, Dunn C,  Bukoski RD. Molecular cloning and characterization of a rat sensory nerve Ca2+-sensing Receptor. Am J. Physiol Cell Physiol 285: C64-C75, 2003.

Awumey EM, Howlett AC, Diz DI. Commentry: Is there a role for anandamide in cardiovascular regulation? Insights from studies of endocannabinoid metabolism. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 289: H520-H521, 2005.  

Awumey EM, Bukoski RD. Cellular Functions and Fluxes of Calcium. In: Weaver CM, Heaney RP, eds. Calcium in Human Health, Totowa, NJ: Humana Press, Chp. 3, pp. 13-25, 2006.  

Awumey EM, Howlett AC, Diz DI, Putney JW, Jr., Bukoski RD. Ca2+ mobilization through the Dorsal Root Ganglion Ca2+-sensing receptor stably expressed in HEK293 cells. Am J. Physiol Cell Physiol 292: C1895-C1905, 2007. 

Heyeraas KJ, Haug SR, Bukoski RD, Awumey EM. Identification of the Ca2+-sensing Receptor in Rat Trigeminal Ganglia, Sensory Axons and Tooth Dental Pulp. Calc.Tissue Int.85: 57-65, 2008.

Awumey EM, Hill SK, Diz DI, Bukoski RD. Cytochrome P450 metabolites of 2-arachidonyl glycerol play a role in Ca2+-induced relaxation of isolated mesenteric arteries. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 294: H2363-H2370, 2008.

Sesay J, Somasundaram C, Diz DI, Bukoski RD, Howlett AC Awumey EM. N18TG2 neuroblastoma cells express a Ca2+-sensing receptor coupled to intracellular Ca2+ signalling. Submitted.



Bukoski RD, Somasundaram C, Cogdell K, Howlett A, Awumey EM. N18TG2 cells express a Ca2+-sensing receptor coupled with intracellular Ca2+ signaling. Hypertension 42: P31, 2003. 

Awumey EM, Bukoski RD. The IP3 receptor antagonist, 2-aminoethoxydiphenyl borate blocks [Ca2+]i transients and store-operated calcium entry in HEK293 cells expressing the sensory nerve Ca2+-sensing receptor. FASEB J. 18: A970, 2004.

Awumey EM, Putney JW, Jr., Howlett A, Bukoski RD. Desensitization of the sensory nerve Ca2+-sensing receptor stably expressed in HEK293 cells is mediated by protein kinase C. FASEB J19: A524, 2005.

Awumey EM, Hill SK, Diz DI, Bukoski RD. 2-Arachidonylglycerol and its metabolite, glycerated epoxy-eicosatrienoic acid mediate Ca2+-induced relaxation of isolated mesenteric arteries. Am J Hypertension 18: 50A, 2005.

Awumey EM, Hill SK, Kunos G, Diz DI, Bukoski RD. Ionized calcium, in the physiological range, induces the release and metabolism of anandamide and 2-arachidonyl glycerol in isolated mesenteric artery arcade. Hypertension 46: P21, 2005.

Awumey EM, Diz DI, Howlett AC, Putney JW, Jr. Downregulation of protein kinase C Inhibits perivascular sensory nerve Ca2+-sensing receptor signaling. Hypertension 48: E85, 2006.

Heyeraas KJ, Haug SR, Awumey EM. Identification of the Ca2+-sensing receptor in rat trigeminal ganglia, sensory axons and tooth dental pulp. FASEB J 21: A73, 2007.

Sesay J, Howlett AC, Diz DI, Awumey EM. Ca2+-sensing receptor signaling in mouse neuroblastoma cells: A model for the perivascular sensory nerve Ca2+-sensing receptor. Hypertension 50:e124, 2007.


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For nearly 100 years, NCCU has had a rich history of creating programs which foster academic development and achievement and the JLC-BBRI is one of our most innovative research initiatives to date. Since 1998, BBRI has enhanced undergraduate science education and conducted research relating to health issues that disproportionately affect African Americans. As the JLC-BBRI continues to address the health research and training needs of underserved minority groups, it is our hope that the information and research it generates will support the improvement of health of those in minority communities, while providing students with viable skills in biotechnology and broader access to careers in the biomedical sciences.

The mission of BBRI is to conduct research focused on health issues that disproportionately affect African Americans and other minority groups and to provide students with research training and experience that will enhance their access to careers in the biomedical sciences.

The JLC-BBRI Nutrition Research Program at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis receives a collaborative research grant with Appalachian State University to study Chia seed using the zebrafish model. In addition, a funded collaborative research agreement was established with UNC Chapel Hill to study the dietary choline using the zebrafish model. Finally, a new cancer research faculty member was recruited to start a program on dietary and hormonal modulation of breast cancer risks. The research is funded by a grant from American Cancer Society to study phytoestrogens and erbB-2 mediated breast carcinogenesis.

BBRI and NC A&T State University filed the first joint patent originating from zebrafish research at the North Carolina Research Campus, an innovative treatment to target the anemia market.

The JLC-BBRI Nutrition Research Program was awarded a Technology Research Grant from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center to develop a zebrafish model for high-throughput drug discovery.

The JLC-BBRI Nutrition Research Program is chosen as one of six university-partners selected for the private-public venture North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, a world-class research hub to foster collaborative science discoveries in nutrition, health and biotechnology research.

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