LIPID DOMAINS & PHYSIOLOGICAL MEMBRANE DYNAMICS
Ceramides, the backbones of all sphingolipids, have key roles in cell physiology and have been implicated in several diseases. Evidence suggests that upon stimuli ceramide levels increase in the plasma membrane, driving the formation of ceramide-platforms. It is hypothesized that these platforms promote changes in the organization of membrane proteins and activation of signalling cascades. However, the biological actions of ceramides are diverse and, in addition, seem to be related to the structure of their acyl chain. Since different ceramides have distinct impacts in the biophysical properties of the membranes, two important questions arise:
Are the distinct biophysical properties of the N-acyl ceramides responsible for the individual biological outcome of these lipids?
Is it possible to connect a cellular event to a specific alteration in cell membrane biophysical properties?
One of the goals of our team is to investigate how ceramides organize and change the biophysical properties of cellular membranes, to gain further insights into the molecular mechanisms of ceramides action. This is fundamental to understand the role of these lipids in physiology and pathology.