Energy and lipid metabolism in mammalian cells
Obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases are daunting modern-day epidemics. In Western Europe more than 50% of the population is overweight and approximately 15 million people die from cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and stroke every year. These conditions are often caused by disorders of fat metabolism, resulting in a massive accumulation of fat in various tissues and of cholesterol in the walls of arteries.
Fats are known to perform long-term storage of energy, but they also act as signaling molecules in the body. Consequently, fat is stored not only in adipose tissue, but also in smaller amounts in almost all cells of the body. Special fat cleaving enzymes, called lipases, are used to remobilize stored fat from cellular depots. Normal lipid and energy metabolism requires complex regulation by a network of signaling processes.
At the Institute of Molecular Biosciences various research teams focus of different aspects of energy and lipid metabolism. Besides cell culture experiments we are also model organisms. Some of our researchers rely on yeast, a single cell organism, which can be cultivated and genetically modified easily. Other groups rely on mouse models since most metabolic pathways are identical among mammals. We hope that our finding identify new therapeutic targets or help prevent disease.