Phospholipid and Cell Biology

Research in our laboratory is directed towards understanding how the latter stages of exocytosis are controlled. We are focused on the exocytosis, or secretion, of insulin from pancreatic beta cells and the exocytosis, or translocation, of glucose transporter GLUT4 from fat and muscle cells - processes that are central to maintaining appropriate blood glucose levels and are potentially disrupted in diabetes. Focus is the right word as we use live cell microscopy, particularly total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy (TIRF-M), as one of our major methods to study exocytosis in these cells.

We are studying how phospholipids in the membrane may participate in controlling exocytosis, particularly those produced by phospholipase Ds and PI3-kinases. We are also investigating the role the cortical cytoskeleton plays in regulating the transport and attachment of vesicles to the target membrane and also the final fusion step.

Part of our research efforts are also directed towards developing better reagents and methods to image the exocytotic process and analytical methods to automatically identify and quantitate the thousands of trafficking and fusion events we are able to image.

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