Membrane Molecular Biology/Transport/Lipids
Biological membranes and intracellular organelles are essential for the function of every cell. They play key roles in the entry and exit of molecules, separation of biochemical functions, localization of metabolic processes, and communication with the environment outside the cell. Dysfunction in membrane structure, function, and protein compartmentalization processes has serious consequences for the normal function of cells and has been implicated in diseases such as Alzheimer's, cystic fibrosis, cancer, and arteriosclerosis.
In the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, key researchers lead groups investigating membrane structure and function and protein targeting and compartmentalization. Their research generates fundamental information about the structure, function, and biogenesis of biological membranes and cellular compartments. This work is directly applicable to the diagnosis and treatment of membrane-associated disorders and is stimulating the development of novel therapeutic approaches.
The three research groups studying aspects of biological membranes are the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Molecular Biology of Membrane Proteins Group, the CIHR Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids Group, and the Membrane Transport Group. They are responsible for a number of key achievements in membrane research, including discovery of a protein translocation system that transports fully folded proteins across biological membranes; the first molecular cloning of a protein that plays a critical role in cardiac development and pathology; development of techniques for manipulating the lipid polar head groups, fatty acid composition, and cholesterol content of membranes; and the first isolation of genes encoding nucleoside transporters.
As a result of their research success, these groups have earned world-wide recognition.