Exocytosis by membrane crumpling maintains homeostasis during exocrine secretion
Dynamic membrane remodeling is essential for life. Cells, organelles, and vesicles must constantly acquire, maintain and modify their shape and composition to fulfill a plethora of important physiological functions ranging from neuronal transmission to fertilization and muscle contraction. My lab focuses on elucidating the membrane remodeling pathways that mediate the trafficking of material and information in and between cells. These include endocytosis, exocytosis, extracellular-vesicles, and cell-to-cell fusion. We are committed to gaining previously inaccessible insights into the molecular mechanisms and physiological functions of membrane remodeling in the context of tissue morphogenesis and homeostasis. To this end, we take an interdisciplinary approach combining the strengths of biochemistry, genetics, and multimodal imaging, including the development of three-dimensional correlative light and electron microscopy (CLEM) approaches. We apply these state-of-the-art techniques to a variety of cell culture and in vivo models, including flies and mice, to pursue several major research directions, which include membrane remodeling during exocytosis of large secretory vesicles and differentiation and fusion of vertebrate skeletal muscles. These systems offer the unique opportunity to understand how membrane remodeling processes adapt to the changing demands of cellular life and the life of the organism.