The active shaping of biological membranes is essential for a variety of cellular functions including but not limited to cell migration, cell division, organelle morphology, and cell and membrane fusion. To this end, cells have evolved the ability to shape membranes through interactions between lipids and membrane shaping proteins or through direct modification of membrane lipids. Exactly how and when cells choose to employ these distinct membrane shaping tools remains a topic of intense study. Using the ciliate, Tetrahymena thermophila, our lab is trying to identify novel membrane shaping mechanisms and the signaling pathways by which they are regulated.
1. Tetrahymena mating requires cell-cell fusion and selective autophagy
2. Membrane shaping proteins, Reticulon and SNX4, may play a role in cell-cell fusion and selective autophagy respectively