Research interests

Each intracellular organelle critically depends on maintaining its specific lipid composition that in turn contributes to the biophysical properties of the membrane such as fluidity and microdomain structure. Membrane lipids have long been regarded as sole structural components of cellular and viral envelopes. Recent progress in lipid membrane biology however demonstrated that lipids play important roles in many processes, including the molecular mechanism of membrane deformation during vesicular and viral budding. The molecular mechanisms that cause targeting to/segregation from microdomains of a given protein are not yet understood. In addition to specific lipid-transmembrane segment interactions as a basis for partitioning, presence in a given microdomain may alter the conformation of proteins, and, thus, the activity and availability for regulatory modifications. Accordingly, alterations of protein-lipid microenvironments are suggested to contribute to an increasing number of diseases such as Alzheimer, diabetes and to alter viral infectivity in some cases. However, for most proteins the specific lipid environment of transmembrane segments as well as its relevance to protein function and overall membrane organization is largely unknown. Our goal is to analyze lipid functions, lipid sorting processes and specific protein-lipid interactions in COPI vesicle biogenesis and in viral membrane biogenesis.

 

Methods applied

Quantitative Lipid Analysis by nano-Mass Spectrometry In vitro Reconstitution Systems Lipid Chemistry In vitro FRET Systems In vivo Photo-Crosslinking Systems