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Head/PI: Hoekstra, D

University Medical Center Groningen

Membrane Cell Biology

Head of the department and principal investigator prof. dr. Dick Hoekstra

In general the aim of the investigations is to obtain insight into the properties and mechanisms of processes of fundamental and cell biological interest that rely on the dynamics of membranes, with a particular emphasis of the role of lipids in these events. These processes include the intracellular flow and sorting of lipids and proteins in eukarotic cells, in particular in relation to the biogenesis of polarized membranes in liver cells and oligodendrocytes (CNS), and intermembrane interactions during membrane fusion, as studied in both model and biological membrane systems. Topics include the regulation and physiological relevance (including bioactivity) of the trafficking and intracellular flow of (glyco-) sphingolipids and (membrane) proteins in endocytic, transcytotic and biosynthetic pathways of animal cells in relation to cell division, differentiation and growth, and tumor development. The studies also involve the development of synthetic amphiphiles as vehicles for delivery of genes into eukaryotic cells. The latter is exploited for both fundamental purposes, e.g. to express distinct proteins in cells and study structural/functional properties (cell biology) and industrial/medical application in terms of artificial chromosome delivery and gene therapy. The major emphasis of this work concerns the mechanism by which cationic lipid complexes interact with and destabilize cellular membranes, thereby allowing plasmids or oligonucleotides to cross membrane barriers, necessary for nuclear arrival.

Last modified:January 23, 2015 16:30
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