Medical Research

Louisiana State University

Alyssa Johnson, Adam Bohnert
Baton Rouge, LA
December 2019

Lysosomes are digestive organelles that govern cellular metabolism and homeostasis.  Despite their importance to animal health and disease, the current model of lysosome structure and function is quite simplistic: lysosomes are thought to exist mainly as discrete vesicles, each with similar degradative capacity.  Recently, two early career investigators at Louisiana State University discovered a new class of lysosomes that challenges this model.  In multiple species and cell types (including mammalian cells), the team has identified an interconnected, dynamic network of tubular lysosomes (TLs) that are exceptionally degradative.  Notably, these TL networks suppress age-related tissue degeneration, highlighting their biomedical relevance.  This study will utilize two genetically tractable model organisms, the nematode C. elegans and the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, to develop a comprehensive picture of this unique organelle.  Live-animal imaging will be used to track TL biogenesis and activity in different tissues throughout life and in response to metabolic stimuli.  In addition, the investigators will utilize fluorescent sensors to assess cargo turnover in TLs and they will perform unbiased screens to identify TL regulators.  These studies have the potential to redefine the landscape of a cell, while also hinting at natural disease-fighting mechanisms based on lysosomal plasticity.

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