Biological membranes form an extremely complex and dynamic network in cells, defining the spatial organization of intracellular compartments. The core of each membrane is the lipid bilayer which is primarily responsible for the barrier function of membranes. However, the membrane lipids also play important roles in cell signaling and regulation of membrane shape and dynamics.
Membrane remodeling is essential for many central cellular processes, including cell morphogenesis, motility, cytokinesis, endocytosis and secretion. These processes not only rely on the pushing forces generated by the actin cytoskeleton, but also dynamic changes in the structure and composition of cellular membranes, as well as coordinated interplay between proteins and cellular membranes. The mechanisms that govern the formation and maintenance of membrane curvature also function in organelle morphogenesis, such as formation of mitochondrial cristae and endoplasmic reticulum tubular structures. Therefore, the mechanisms by which highly diverse membrane structures are generated and remodeled is fundamental for understanding the principles of a large number of cellular processes.
Importantly, membrane remodeling is misregulated in many human diseases including cancer, auto-inflammatory diseases, and neurodegenerative disorders, further underscoring the importance of precise regulation of membrane dynamics.
Our lab is interested in elucidating the molecular mechanisms of membrane morphogenesis in cells. More specifically, we aim to understand how proteins sculpt divergent membrane structures and how signal lipids regulate protein functions; most importantly, we seek to know how membrane morphogenesis is linked to many central cellular processes.