Eukaryotic cells have organelles—internal structures that are somewhat similar to the organs in an animal. My lab is working to understand how cells make organelles in a process called biogenesis. We also want to understand how our cells regulate this process. We study organelle biogenesis in the model organism S. cerevisiae, also known as baker’s yeast. Because many aspects of organelle biogenesis are similar in all eukaryotes, what we learn in yeast should help us understand human cells as well.
We are currently focusing our research on the movement of lipids within cells, the structure of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), and the formation and function of close contacts of the ER with other organelles.
The movement of lipids within cells
Organelles are membrane-bound structures in cells. These membranes are made of lipids and proteins. We are working to understand how cells move lipids between organelles and how these processes contribute to lipid metabolism in cells.
The structure of the ER
In most types of cells, the ER is the largest organelle. It forms a network of sheets and tubules that extend throughout the cell. We are working on understanding how this complex structure is generated and how the structure of the ER helps it function properly.
Formation and function of close contacts of the ER with other organelles
The ER makes close contact with other organelles. These sites are regions where signals and small molecules are exchanged between organelles. We are working to understand how they form and function.