Cell-membrane fat has key role in disease

Researchers have created a biosensor that measures membrane lipid levels, possibly opening up new pathways to disease treatment. The research team engineered a way to modify proteins to fluoresce and act as sensors for lipid levels.

“Lipid molecules on cell membranes can act as switches that turn on or off protein-protein interactions affecting all cellular processes, including those associated with disease,” the study author said. “While the exact mechanism is still unknown, our hypothesis is that lipid molecules serve sort of like a sliding switch.”

Once lipid concentrations reach a certain threshold, they trigger reactions, including disease-fighting immune responses. Quantifying lipid membrane concentration in a living cell and studying its location in real time can provide a powerful tool for understanding and developing new ways to combat a range of maladies from inflammation, cancer and diabetes to metabolic diseases.

Read more at Nature Chemistry