Understanding the “Organs” of Human Cells
The human body is a complex machine composed of more than 50 trillion cells controlled by information encoded in our genes. Infection and diseases such as cancer happen when genetic errors or environmental factors cause these cells to malfunction. But, understanding how cells are built could lead to the discovery of new ways to treat these illnesses.
Dr. Roberto Botelho, Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Sciences and Technologies, wants to shed light on the molecular processes that control membrane-bound organelles—the “organs” of the cell—since it is when these organelles fail that illnesses occur.
Botelho hopes to learn how organelles get their molecular and functional traits, by determining the importance of the fat chains that form phosphoinositide lipids–the architects of organelle identity. His research team will explore how these phosphoinositides help regulate the genes that determine organelle identity. They will also investigate the link between immune signals and the molecular machinery responsible for adjusting the cellular number of lysosomes, the organelles that help resolve infection by breaking down pathogens.
Botelho’s research could provide important clues leading to the development of new therapies and diagnostics to fight illnesses, particularly immune-related diseases.