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RA III Lipid Membrane Biology and Cellular Health


Biological membranes are central interfaces of cellular processes in inflammation. Membrane and free lipids mediate signaling and trafficking, thereby regulating tissue homeostasis and immune responses. Various levels of complexity are required to study interactions between lipids, proteins and membranes. RA III covers a broad range of expertises and techniques for lipidomics and studies on biophysical properties, lipid-protein moieties, lateral organizations and dynamics of membranes. Lipidomics related to the underlying genetic or epigenetic principles will identify lipid biomarkers for membrane health, breaches in barrier integrity, and inflammation. Alterations monitored during pro- and regress of disease and ageing will be correlated with pro- and anti-inflammatory stimuli and resident microbiome community structures. A focus will be on membranes and lipid mediators in asthma, atherosclerosis, COPD and IBD. Lipidome and membrane studies will be integrated with proteome and the new Theoretical Biology infrastructure. The RA provides a unique environment to explore the potential of lipids as causative principles, biomarkers and intervention targets as new concepts for diagnostics, therapy and dietary modulation.

Contribution to the Scientific Discourse

The proposed research program focuses on the molecular composition, plasticity and dynamics of biological membranes in inflammatory disorders. Membranes build up a pivotal cellular compartment that ultimately separates the individual from its extracellular environment. Collaborative projects will thus investigate (1) changes in lipidome composition in inflammatory diseases/models (including biomarker identification), (2) the impact of lipid composition on inflammatory signaling pathways, (3) the role of the resident microbiome of the skin, lung and gut on membrane lipids and lipid mediators and (4) potential principles of nutritional/therapeutic intervention modulating membrane function in inflammation.

Figure: In RA III, lipids and membranes will be studied in inflammatory diseases with respect to biomarkers, structure-function relationships, and therapeutic targets.

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