Research Opportunities: academic year

Cluett: Research in Biology Projects

Ed Cluett

Cholesterol plays such a critical role in the structure and function of mammalian cells that they can obtain this lipid in two ways: by synthesis or by diet. As a result, the transport of cholesterol within a cell is very complex and must be tightly regulated. We are interested in what happens to cholesterol after it enters cells and have identified both a novel mechanism for cholesterol transport and a specific transport route in the cell that cholesterol follows as it is distributed to cellular membranes. We can disrupt this route and thereby change the distribution of cholesterol in membranes. 

PROJECT 1. We are continuing to characterize this pathway and the compartments that control the distribution of cholesterol using fluorescence microscopy. As part of this project, we are investigating how different components of the membrane trafficking pathway interact in cells to better understand how cells transport materials from one organelle to another.

PROJECT 2. We are investigating how the redistribution of cholesterol affects the processing of Amyloid

Precursor Protein, which leads to Alzheimer’s Disease.

PROJECT 3. We are investigating how alterations in the cholesterol environment affect the trafficking of NPC1, which is mutated in Niemann-Pick C disease.

PROJECT 4. Our ongoing research has given us clues as to how cells maintain cholesterol homeostasis in membranes, deal with excess cholesterol, and where do cells sense cholesterol levels.

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