Fatty acids are essential molecules that have multiple cellular fates. They are critical signaling molecules, substrates for energy storage and production, and precursors for membrane phospholipids and complex sphingolipids. Channeling fatty acids into different pathways must be precisely regulated in order to meet the complex physiological demands of cells, and prevent toxicity associated with aberrant accumulation of fatty acids. Although most of the enzymes and transporters involved in fatty acid metabolism are known, how these pathways are spatially organized and coordinated to maintain an efficient homeostatic system is unknown.
The projects in our lab focus on defining the role of organelle contact sites in coordinating metabolic pathways and regulating enzymatic functions. We utilize a multi-disciplinary approach combing proteomics, lipidomics, and high-resolution imaging, with classical biochemistry and genetics and using yeast and human cell lines.
The outcome of this work will be a greater understanding of how the disruption of intracellular organelle networks alter metabolism and cause human diseases. This work holds the promise of identifying new proteins and pathways to target in the treatment of devastating disease that result from disruptions in metabolic pathways including obesity, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.