Cells contain specialized membrane-enclosed compartments, organelles, which generate and shape signals that regulate a vast array of cellular functions. We study three organelles: mitochondria, specialized in energy conversion, the endoplasmic reticulum, the site of protein synthesis and the main calcium store of cells, and phagosomes, a transient compartment forming inside innate immune cells to allow the killing and degradation of invading pathogens.
Our research focuses on the membrane contact sites that form between organelles to control the activity of ion channels and the spatiotemporal pattern of cellular signals. We aim to identify molecules that generate and maintain the contacts controlling the activity of ion channels and the energetic coupling between mitochondria.
The ER Ca2+ sensor STIM1 (green) recruits ER cisternae to phagosomes.
Interactions of STIM1 with SOCE channels on phagosomes generate local Ca2+ elevations (green dots) that boost phagocytosis.
Modified from Nunes et al., Curr. Biol. 22:1990-7 (2012)