What we do

Lipid-protein interactions

Research of cellular membranes has mainly focused on proteins that modulate the structure and functions of membranes. While proteins indeed are key players in mediating membrane traffic, they act in concert with lipids, the main components of all biomembranes.

Membranes formed of lipids line the various cellular compartments and traditionally, they have been considered somewhat inert structural components of the cell. Yet, there are thousands of different lipids species, suggesting that lipids have highly specific functions in cells, in addition to the role of insulating organelles from one another.

Approximately half of cellular proteins are in contact with lipids. Many proteins are either embedded in or more superficially associated with membranes. The lipid environment modulates the activity of a membrane associated protein. However, very little is known about the underlying principles regulating lipid-protein interactions and what functional consequences this protein-lipid cross-talk may have.

Our research questions

Research in ProLipids Centre of Excellence focuses on key questions related to the dynamics of lipid-protein interactions. The tools we apply and develop include imaging, biophysical and biochemical methods, and techniques for multi-scale molecular simulations and modeling. We aim to gain fundamental understanding in the following areas:

  1. Formation of functional nanoscale membrane units under the influence of protein crowding
  2. How do membrane sculpting proteins regulate the shape and dynamics of membranes
  3. How do plasma membrane lipids regulate actin-binding proteins
  4. How does cholesterol delivered to the plasma membrane modulate actin in migrating cells
  5. Pathophysiological  relevance of protein-lipid interplay at the organism level
  6. Development of novel methods to study biological membranes and protein-lipid interplay