Research Aims

It is our prime goal to understand the molecular and cellular processes by which an organism copes with nutrition as a key environmental factor. We use all methods of modern life sciences to describe this interplay of the genome with dietary factors and this is studied in model organisms (yeasts, mammalian cell culture systems, worms, mice) but also in humans. The two major research lines followed relate to transport proteins and the metabolome.

Transport proteins in the membrane are needed to funnel nutrients, such as carbohydrates, peptides and amino acids to the cell interior. We have cloned a number of genes encoding such nutrient transporters that mediate the uptake of solutes in the intestine, the kidney and other cells. We characterize the function of these proteins at the structural level and in the setting of the cell or the whole organism by using transporter-deficient animal models.

More recently we have extended our analytical techniques to include metabolomics. This term describes the use of mass spectrometric methods to quantify hundreds of small molecules (nutrients, metabolites and intermediates) simultaneously from any given biological sample. We use transgenic model organisms to define the role of individual proteins in the control of metabolic fluxes and the inter-organ metabolism. Mass-spectrometry based methods are also utilized in human studies to determine the metabol(om)ic responses to dietary treatments or for characterizing metabolic changes for example in people with insulin resistance.

last changed: 21.11.2012, JS