My lab is interested in the adaptations of animals that survive extreme environmental insults such as desiccation, freezing, thermal impact, and hypoxia. Our goal is to elucidate biological principles at the molecular, organelle, cellular and whole animal levels that enable animals to survive these insults. Part of my research focus on the role of protective proteins (e.g. heat shock proteins, late embryogenesis abundant proteins, ice nucleation proteins) in stabilizing cellular membranes and proteins during desiccation and freezing. We are especially interested in how the sophisticated cellular power-house, the mitochondrion, is morphologically and functionally preserved in animals that undergo complete desiccation. The mitochondrion does not only serve as a cellular power-house, but also plays a major role in cellular suicide pathways (Apoptosis). Our knowledge is scarce on how the mitochondrion functions and integrates in the complex regulation of Programmed Cell Death (PCD) in naturally occurring states of suboptimal metabolic conditions. Understanding the principles that govern life under extreme conditions will greatly enhance our ability to preserve cellular material and help us to better understand and treat diseases that involve mitochondrial dysfunctions. More recently we started to investigate mitochondrial dysfunctions in diabetes and Alzheimer's Disease.
WebMaster: Michael A. Menze. Created: 1/8/2012