Lipid Metabolism

We study lipid metabolism, the regulation of cellular membrane homeostasis, and their roles in some human pathologies, e.g. infections and Alzheimer. We developed novel (bio)chemical methods integrating mass spectrometry, proteomics, lipidomics, microfluidics and bioinformatics to map cellular protein-lipid.

Lipid function rely on their heterogeneous distribution in living systems and the formation of molecular signatures that define organelle membranes or microdomains. Lipid metabolism and its associated disorders need to be understood in the context of this functional, three-dimensional organization. Our very recent work has demonstrated the existence in humans of yet largely unexplored networks of >100 lipid transfer proteins mediating lipid movement across biological membranes. The study of these networks, underlying many human diseases, represents one of our current research focus.

Lipids have signalling functions and form molecular signatures –the so-called lipid code– that are read by specialized lipid-binding domains. We discovered that discrete changes in specific lipids or in the collective properties of all lipids in membranes affect the functioning and efficiency of downstream signalling. This has broad implications for human health, as 60% of all drug targets reside in biological membranes, and genetic and environmental factors affecting membrane homeostasis are implicated in a variety of diseases. Understanding how signalling can be modulated by discrete changes in the chemical properties of the membranes and how this affects the switching behaviour of signalling lipids represents our second research focus.