The overall goal of our research is to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying autonomic control of metabolic and cardiovascular functions in health and disease. Our laboratory uses multidisciplinary approaches and stat-of-art molecular and physiological techniques.
Ongoing studies focus on dissecting the role of cilia-related proteins such as the BBSome in the regulation of regulation of physiological processes related to energy homeostasis and cardiovascular regulation. A cilium is a hairlike cellular projection found in virtually all cell types of the mammalian body. This evolutionary conserved organelle plays a fundamental role in the regulation of several biological processes. Understanding the role of cilia-related proteins such as the BBSome in metabolic control has garnered great interest due to the fact that components of the phenotype associated with patients lacking this protein complex such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension are common in the general population. Combining physiological and biochemical approaches we discovered that the BBSome is critically involved in the regulation of energy balance. We identified specific abnormalities in the hypothalamic pathways controlling energy homeostasis in mice bearing targeted deletion of the BBSome. Consistent with this, we uncovered a critical role of the BBSome in mediating the trafficking of receptors such as the leptin receptor and insulin receptor to the cell membrane. We also implicated the BBSome as an important player in vascular function and blood pressure control. Ongoing work is focused on understanding the exact mechanisms that underlie BBSome control of these biological processes.