Research Groups

 

Projects in Molecular Membrane Biology

  • Project 1
  • Project 2
  • Project 3

 

How does a cell sense and regulate its content of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids?

A cell can synthesize hundreds of lipids. Do certain lipids serve as 'saturation' marker or do cell sense general membrane properties such as membrane thickness to maintain membrane saturation in a regime acceptable for life? Does a cell use this information to balance membrane protein production and lipid synthesis?

 

How does the membrane lipid composition induce cellular stress responses and which machineries are involved?

Too much is seldom good. Both too saturated and too unsaturated membrane lipids can lead to cell death. This is well illustrated by the loss of insulin producing beta-cells in patients with type II diabetes. What drives cells with an aberrant lipid composition to suicidal stress responses and what is the molecular trigger for this response? Having established a novel model system for membrane lipid induced cellular stress responses in Saccharomyces cerevisae, we are now using the power of yeast genetics to identify this missing link in membrane biology.

 

 

Does a cell have machineries to specifically degrade or sequester aberrant membranes?

In the past decades elaborate networks of chaperones were identified to guarantee proper protein folding. Cells counteract the accumulation of misfolded proteins using various strategies that either rebuilt or remove protein aggregates. But how does a cell handle aberrant membrane structures such as ER-whorls, hexagonal phases, or tightly packed membrane stacks?