Lipids — in vivo dynamics, protein partners and signaling

There’s nothing bland about them!


This year marks the 42nd anniversary of the publication of the fluid mosaic model of cell-membrane structures by S.J. Singer and G.L. Nicolson. While theirs was a seminal paper in the lipid field, the authors did make one unfortunate mistake: depicting lipids as bland molecules that serve primarily as a passive barrier and a host for membrane proteins, an idea many standard biochemistry textbooks have adopted.

Multitalented lipids

Much has changed since 1972, and now it is hard to find any area of biology in which lipids do not play crucial regulatory roles. The critical roles of lipids are expanding to many unsuspected areas, and that is the subject of our first session.

Two sessions and a workshop

Recent advances in chemical biology and molecular imaging technologies have allowed researchers to identify new lipid-binding proteins, specifically manipulate diverse lipid signaling, and directly monitor lipid dynamics and lipid-mediated cellular activities with high spatiotemporal resolution. These exciting new developments will be covered in two sessions, titled “Lipids meet chemistry” and “Lipids caught in action,” as well as a workshop, titled “Chemical and optogentic manipulation of lipid signaling.”

Lipid magic: How do they do it?

With all this functional information, the time is ripe for mechanistic investigation of how lipids perform such diverse regulatory roles, with a special emphasis on how lipids regulate the structure and function of their effector proteins. In the final session, we will witness how state-of-the-art structural and analytical tools lead to mind-boggling new discoveries that answer this important question.

Overall, these sessions not only will present new functional information on lipids and new technologies to study lipids but also will help change the way both experts and nonexperts think about and study lipid-mediated cellular processes. Everyone is invited to this celebration of lipids.


Michael Best
Wonhwa Cho  
Organizers: Michael Best, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and Wonhwa Cho, University of Illinois at Chicago