|Laboratorio di Biologia e Biochimica
|Role of lipids in apoptosis and in signalling pathways. Apoptosis is an active and tightly regulated form of cell death, which can also be considered a stress-induced process of cellular communication. Recent studies reveal that the lipid network within cells is involved in the regulation and propagation of death signalling. Despite the vast growth of our current knowledge on apoptosis, little is known of the specific role played by lipid molecules in the central event of apoptosis - the piercing of mitochondrial membranes. Our research focus on the earliest changes that physiological apoptosis induces in mitochondrial membranes to understand the role of mitochondrial lipids in apoptosis and discover new stress sensing mechanisms in cells. Another aspect that we are studying is the lipid signalling pathway in plants and the role played by Lipid Transfer Proteins (LTPs). Developmental changes requires a complex set of signals and lipid-derived molecules are now investigated as important metabolites. Lipid transfer proteins (LTPs) are a group of cystine-rich proteins named after their ability to bind and facilitate lipid transfer between membranes in vitro. Several studies have demonstrated that plant LTPs possess antimicrobial activity in vitro and are induced during pathogen infection, suggesting that these proteins can act in the protection against pathogens. LTPs seem to be implicated in the symbiotic association between rhizobia and leguminous plants as well. We are currently studying the role played by specific LTPs (like MtN5) in plant signalling pathways. Lipid derived molecules that can be recognised by LTPs will be investigated in the future to clarify the signal transduction pathway mediated by the members of this new class of LTPs, the Signaling LTPs.
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