Prof. Michal Hershfinkel

Prof. Michal Hershfinkel Profile


Department : Physiology and Cell Biology
Room : 338
בנין מעבדות מחקר רפואה ע"ש דייכמן - פלאם
Phone : 972-8-6477317
Email :
Office Hours :  


  • I received my M.Sc. and Ph.D. on my work on electrical characterization of semiconducting nanostructures, using an STM, at the department of Physics. In my postdoctorate I studies issues of cellular ion homeostasis using fluorescent imaging and confocal microscopy. B.Sc. 1986-1988 Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Physics 1990-1991 Suma cum laude, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Physics M.Sc. 1991-1994 Suma cum laude, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Physics of condensed matter, Department of Physics Experimental research under supervision of Prof. V. Volterra. Title of thesis: "Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) for the Characterization of Nanostructures". Ph.D. 1994-1999 Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Physics of condensed matter, Department of Physics Experimental research under supervision of Prof. V. Volterra. Title of thesis: "Use of the STM tip as a tool for nano-lithography, and electrical characterization of nano-structures".

Research Interests

  • zinc homeostasis, mediated by zinc sensing receptors and transporters. My research group is particularly interested in: 1) zinc brain homeostasis, as this ion has an important role during normal activity, yet it is highly toxic to neuronal cells. 2) Mechanisms linking zinc to cell growth and proliferation with particular emphasis on the role of zinc in wound healing. Key words describing my research would be: Zinc homeostasis, zinc sensing receptor, zinc signaling in the brain, zinc transport, zinc in wound healing.

Research Topics

  • Zinc Physiology, Zinc sensing receptor
  • Epithelial cell survival, cancer,
  • Role of zinc in digestive system function (in vitro and in vivo) iv. Role of zinc in neuronal function, learning and neuronal disease

Major expertise and techniques in the lab

  • Live cell imaging of ions (zinc, calcium, pH)
  • Biochemical assays
  • Molecular biology

Publications and funding summary / representative publications and grants

  • D. Gilad, S. Shorer, M. Ketzef, A. Friedman, I. Sekler, E. Aizenman and M. Hershfinkel : Homeostatic regulation of KCC2 activity by the zinc receptor mZnR/GPR39 during seizures. (2015) Neurobiol Dis.
  • L. Cohen, I. Sekler, M. Hershfinkel : The zinc sensing receptor, ZnR/GPR39, controls proliferation and differentiation of colonocytes and thereby tight junction formation in the colon. (2014) Cell Death & Disease.
  • H. Asraf, S. Salomon, A. Nevo, I. Sekler, D. Mayer, M. Hershfinkel : The ZnR/GPR39 Interacts with the CaSR to Enhance Signaling in Prostate and Salivary Epithelia (2013) J Cell Physiol .
  • T. Perez-Rosello, CT Anderson, FJ Schopfer, Y. Zhao, D. Gilad, SR Salvatore, BA Freeman, M. Hershfinkel , E. Aizenman, T. Tzounopoulos: Synaptic Zn2+ inhibits neurotransmitter release by promoting endocannabinoid synthesis. (2013) J Neurosci.
  • IL Nita, M. Hershfinkel , D Fishman, E Ozeri, GA Rutter, SL Sensi, D Khananshvili, EC Lewis, I Sekler: The mitochondrial Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchanger upregulates glucose dependent Ca(2+) signalling linked to insulin secretion (2012) PLoS One
  • L Cohen, H Azriel-Tamir, N Arotsker, I Sekler , M. Hershfinkel :Zinc sensing receptor signaling, mediated by GPR39, reduces butyrate-induced cell death in HT29 colonocytes via upregulation of clusterin (2012) PLoS One.
  • E Hoch, W Lin, J Chai, M. Hershfinkel , D Fu, I Sekler :Histidine pairing at the metal transport site of mammalian ZnT transporters controls Zn2+ over Cd2+ selectivity (2012) Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.
  • RA Saadi, K He, KA Hartnett, K Kandler, M. Hershfinkel , E. Aizenman: SNARE-dependent upregulation of potassium chloride co-transporter 2 activity after metabotropic zinc receptor activation in rat cortical neurons in vitro (2012) Neuroscience
  • E. Chorin, O. Vinograd, I. Fleidervish, D. Gilad, S. Herrmann, I. Sekler, E. Aizenman , M. Hershfinkel : Upregulation of KCC2 activity by zinc-mediated neurotransmission via the mZnR/GPR39 receptor (2011), J. Neurosci.
  • H. Sharir, A. Zinger, A. Nevo, I. Sekler, M. Hershfinkel : Zinc released from injured cells is acting via the Zn2+-sensing receptor, ZnR, to trigger signaling leading to epithelial repair (2010), J. Biol. Chem.
  • M. Hershfinkel , K. Kandler, M. E. Knoch, K. A. Hartnett, M. Dagan-Rabin, I. Sekler and E. Aizenman: Intracellular Zinc Inhibits KCC2 Transporter Function (2009), Nature Neuroscience
  • L. Besser, E. Chorin, I. Sekler, W. F. Silverman, S. Atkin, J. T. Russell and M. Hershfinkel : Synaptically-Released Zinc Triggers Metabotropic Signaling via a Zinc Sensing Receptor in the Hippocampus (2009), J. Neurosci.

Existing collaborations

  • Israel Sekler, Ben-Gurion University– Zinc physiology
  • Elias Aizenman, University of Pittsburgh - Neuronal Zn-sensing receptor

Suggested multi-disciplinary research project / research focus topics

  • Digestive system function
  • Neurodegenerative disorders, Epilepsy.
  • Epithelial cell growth and cancer.

Additional links