Robert A. Fenton Laboratory


My laboratory was started in 2007 and our key interest covers three research areas: (i) investigation of the regulation of membrane proteins in kidney epithelial cells by hormones; (ii) investigation of the role of protein post-translational modification for acute regulation of membrane proteins; and (iii) understanding the role of protein-protein interactions for modulating membrane protein function. Our studies involve utilizing a variety of state-of-the-art techniques and approaches to systematically investigate each research area. Our laboratories approach is to study each research area from multiple aspects; from the molecular regulation of membrane proteins, through to the application of hypotheses in whole animals – our so-called ‘protein to physiology’ approach. The group participates in the training of medical research, bachelors, masters and PhD students. The laboratory is based upon a dynamic international research environment and exchange students are welcome.

Research interest

  • Water channels, aquaporins (AQPs): Understanding the role of post-translational modification (phosphorylation, ubiquinylation, sumoylation) for acute regulation of AQP function
  • Protein-Protein interactions: Understanding their temporal and spatial control of membrane protein function
  • Abnormal water homeostasis: Physiological and pathophysiological aspects of nephrogenic diabetes insipidus
  • NaCl co-transporters: Aspects of their acute regulation via hormones and their regulation via multiple signalling cascades
  • STE-20 related kinases: Understanding their role in the regulation of renal ion homoeostasis
  • Prostaglandins: Understanding their regulatory role in kidney epithelial cells


  • We employ many diverse methods to analyse water channels and NaCl cotransporters:
  • Eukaryotic cell expression systems: various single copy FRT and inducible polarized cell systems 
  • Confocal/light microscopy: analyses of cellular and subcellular distribution and intracellular trafficking of membrane proteins in fixed cells, semi-quantitation of protein abundance and trafficking, computer-aided 3D reconstruction of membrane protein trafficking
  • Proteomics / bioinformatics: Various mass spec-based techniques (LC-MS/MS, MRM, Triple-TOF) for identification of intracellular signalling pathways, protein post-translational modifications, alterations in protein abundances upon specific stimulation, identification of protein:protein interactions, time-courses of protein modifications 
  • Electron microscopy: immuno-gold localization of protein(s) in cells or tissues at the nanometer scale
  • Transgenic mice: development and characterization of global and cell specific gene knockout models
  • Animal disease models: generation and characterization of rodent models that mimic human clinical conditions of abnormal water and sodium handling by the kidney
  • Live cell imaging: FRET and BRET protein proximity assays, Ca2+ quantitation using isolated tubules/cells on microscope/plate reader
  • Cell and molecular biology: Immunocytochemistry, immunohistochemistry, immunoblotting, biochemical analysis of protein trafficking, RNA purification, RT-PCR, cloning, genotyping, site-directed mutagenesis, immunoprecipitatio

Collaborators and centres

  • Interactions of Proteins in Epithelial Transport (InterPrET), AU Pilot Center, Center leader: R. A. Fenton
  • Interdisciplinary Centre for Membrane Proteins, MEMBRANES, Center leader: S. Moestrup
  • Dennis Brown, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard, USA
  • Mark A Knepper and Jason Hoffert, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA
  • Michael Caplan, Yale University, New Haven, USA
  • Jeppe Praetorius, Aarhus University, Denmark
  • Niels Gregersen and Johan Palmfedt, Research Unit for Molecular Medicine, Skejby Sygehus, Denmark
  • Jan Enghild, Aarhus University, Denmark
  • Søren Nielsen, Aarhus University, Denmark
  • Ewout Hoorn, Department of Internal Medicine, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, Netherlands
  • Craig P. Smith, University of Manchester, UK
  • Peter Deen, Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands
  • Jørgen Kjems, Aarhus University, Denmark
  • Nanna MacAulay, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Alicia McDonough, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA.
  • Volker Vallon, University of California San Diego, San Diego, USA.
  • Frank Thevenod, University of Witten, Germany.
  • Johannes Loffing, University of Zürich, Switzerland

Research group members

  • Hanne B. Moeller, MD, PhD, postdoc
  • Marleen Kortenoeven, MSc, PhD, postdoc
  • Lei Chang, MSc, PhD, postdoc
  • Trairak Pisitkun, MD, senior scientist
  • Emma Tina Bisgaard Olesen, MD, PhD student
  • Lena Lindtoft Rosenbaek, MSc, PhD student
  • Helle Høyer, technician
  • Christian V. Westberg, technician
  • Tina Dreyer, technician
  • Else-Merete Løcke, technician
  • Bodil Kruse, technician

Group leader


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