Student Information Training Programs Research Centers

Pharmacology & Toxicology

Research and Graduate Training Faculty


Messing, Robert O., M.D.
Henry M. Burlage Centennial
Professor of Pharmacy
Pharm. Tox.
BME 6.116A
Phone: 512-471-1735
Fax: 512-471-5002

Research Interests

Members in the laboratory of Robert O. Messing investigate signaling pathways and circuits that regulate behavior in rodent models of addiction, anxiety, and depression. The long-term goal of this work is to identify drug targets for treating neuropsychiatric disorders.   We use a variety of biochemical and electrophysiological techniques, which include gene targeting, RNA interference, expression of native and mutant signaling proteins in cell culture systems for biochemical and electrophysiological analysis, functional neuroanatomy using optogenetic and pharmacogenetic tools, and analysis of behavioral phenotypes in mice and rats.

Major contributions of the lab include determining that protein kinase C epsilon, protein kinase C delta, protein kinase M zeta, N-type voltage-dependent calcium channels, and the type 1 equilibrative nucleoside transporter regulate ethanol intoxication and self-administration in mice.  In addition, we have discovered important roles for protein kinase C epsilon in promoting anxiety, nicotine self-administration, and inflammatory and neuropathy-induced pain.  Our research on protein kinase C epsilon in particular has led to ongoing efforts to develop inhibitors of this enzyme as potential treatments for pain, anxiety, and addiction. 

Current Projects
  • Identification of PKC epsilon and PKM zeta substrates using ATP analog-specific mutants of these enzymes.
  • Development of selective inhibitors of PKC isozymes.
  • Functional mapping of corticotrophin releasing hormone circuits that regulate emotion and drug reward.
  • Detection and control of neuronal ensembles activated by discrete behaviors using virus-based reporters and actuators.


Current Research Support

2 R01 AA013588
05/01/02 – 07/31/17
Regulation of GABAA Receptors by PKC epsilon
The major goal of this project is to investigate how PKC epsilon regulates GABAA receptor cell surface stability and function, and how this influences alcohol-related behaviors.
2 P50 AA017072
05/01/13 – 4/30/18
Alcohol Center for Translational Genetics
Research Component 5 (Messing PI), Atypical PKMzeta in Models of Binge Drinking and Relapse
The goal of this program is to identify the role of PKMzeta and its substrates in ethanol self-administration.
R01 AA018316 (Messing)
09/20/09 – 06/30/15
PKC Delta in Ethanol Regulation of GABAA Receptors and Behavior
The major goal of this project is to identify a novel PKC delta signaling pathway that regulates the ethanol sensitivity of extrasynaptic GABAA receptors and may contain targets for the development of new therapeutics to treat alcohol use disorders.



More information about Dr. Messing
> Lab Members
> Publications

Last Reviewed: October 21, 2014

Division Information

Mailing Address:
Pharmacology & Toxicology
College of Pharmacy
The University of Texas
at Austin
107 W. Dean Keeton
Stop C0875
Austin, TX, USA

Email Address: pharmtox

Phone: 512-471-5158

Parkinson Gene Link May Aid Battle Against Disease

Dr. Som Mukhopad-
hyay led the research team that focused on the gene SLC30A10 and its role as a "door opener" in helping to remove elevated levels of manganese from cells. The study was published in the Oct. 15, 2014 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

> Read more about Dr. Mukhopadhyay's research.

Erickson Authors New Book

"Drugs, the Brain and Behavior" is co-authored by Dr. Carlton Erickson, the college's associate dean for research and graduate studies, and Dr. John Brick, executive director of Intoxikon International.

> Read more about Dr. Erickson's new book.

Gore receives SEBM award

Andrea Gore is named to the SEBM Distinguished Scientist Award.

> Read more about Dr. Gore's new award.

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