Research in the Phospholipid Biology Group is directed towards understanding how phospholipids, and their regulatory enzymes, can participate in controlling cellular processes. Currently, we are investigating how phospholipids contribute to regulating vesicle trafficking - particularly exocytosis. We use cell biology and biochemical approaches to identify the signalling or biophysical process that is dependent on the appropriate phospholipid.
Insulin exocytosis from pancreatic β-cells and the translocation of GLUT4 glucose transporter in muscle and adipose cells are two fundamental exocytotic vesicle trafficking processes. They play a central role in controlling blood glucose homeostasis and are processes that can be defective in diabetes. We are currently determining how phosphatidic acid, produced by the enzyme PLD, participates in regulating exocytotic fusion in β-cells and adipocytes. We are characterizing the roles of phosphatidylinositol phosphates - PtdIns(3,4,5)P3 and PtdIns3P - produced by PI3-kinases, in regulating GLUT4 exocytosis in muscle and adipose cells. We also continue to investigate the function other key phospholipids and signalling enzymes, such as PtdIns(4,5)P2, PtdInsP-phosphatases and diacylglycerol activated protein kinase Cs (PKC), play in other vesicle trafficking events.
Katarina Melé (50% Biotech Imaging, CSIRO)
James Burchfield (50% with James Group)
Anne Shemon (currently at the Ben May Department for Cancer Research, Chicago)