How do cells shape and organize their organelles?
We also study organelle biogenesis, focusing on the differentiation of particular pigment cells of the zebrafish, the iridophores. Fish are shiny due to these cells, as they contain specialized organelles with guanine crystals, structures capable of reflecting light by thin film interference – these acquire particular large sizes and stereotypical hexagonal shapes, essential for the cells’ function. However, it is not understood how do cells exert control over the formation of these crystals to achieve the observed morphologies - extreme biology at its best!
Our Goal is to have a mechanistic understanding of the Contribution of Organelle Form and Function into Cellular Function and Specialization
For this, we are investigating different aspects of cell biology, particularly focused on:
Membrane dynamics – to understand the formation of lipidic domains that may regulate protein segregation within organelles
Vesicle trafficking – to understand how cargoes are concentrated within organelles
pH regulation – to test the requirements necessary for organelle function and crystal morphology
Organelle spatial organization – to investigate how different organelle lattices can change cellular function
Through a novel approach to study reflection in vivo with confocal microscopy, we are determining the type of crystal vesicles in zebrafish, characterizing the vesicular guanine transport as well as quantitatively detecting and manipulating guanine crystallization.