MentallyHealth.Org

Scientists create novel map of lipid locations in single cell

May 24, 2017

"The idea was to see where targeted lipids were in macrophages at rest and how this changed upon infection," said Dennis. "We discovered that numerous lipids change in abundance in the membrane and in organelles once a macrophage becomes active."

Identifying these changes in specific lipids is expected to provide scientists with a deeper, more sophisticated understanding of how fats are involved in and influence disease processes, said Dennis.

"We've created a new picture of what's happening in cells. Not an image, but a view at the molecular level where drugs interact and diseases are cured."

The findings are part of the larger, on-going LIPID MAPS project, which received a second five-year renewal grant in 2008 for almost $38 million. The LIPID MAPS project is, in some ways, akin to the earlier Human Genome Project to inventory genes and similar endeavors with proteins (proteomics) and metabolites (metabolomics). It brings together researchers in a dozen research laboratories at nine universities, medical research institutes and life sciences companies. UC San Diego serves as lead institution and information clearinghouse.

"We've now identified many hundreds of lipids," said Dennis, "but we have the capability of detecting many thousands. This has been a trail-blazing experiment. We can now go deeper into the cell."

Source: University of California - San Diego