LIPID-PROTEIN INTERACTIONS IN AUTOPHAGY
Our group studies the molecular interplay of membrane lipids and autophagic proteins, at the early stages of autophagy, in particular autophagosome formation and elongation. We reconstitute this phenomenon into minimal functional systems, with purified lipids and human Atg proteins, in order to obtain a detailed mechanistic understanding of the process at the molecular level. Our lines of research are intended o:
- Characterize the interaction between the lipid cardiolipin (CL) and the human Atg8 family proteins, in order to explore the role of each ortholog in the selective degradation of mitochondria (mitophagy).
- Explore the role of sphingolipids at different stages of autophagy, particularly the molecular mechanisms by which the so-called autophagy paradox occurs, i.e. data indicating that ceramides are involved in two autophagic pathways of opposite outcome, namely, survival or cell death.
- Improve our understanding of lipid-protein interactions leading to autophagosome generation, including oxidative conditions, and the role of sphingolipids.
Our methodological approach is multidisciplinary with a combination of biophysical, cellular biology and nanotechnological techniques.