Department of Biochemistry
A vigorous group of scientists and trainees dedicated to the expansion and transmission of knowledge about the biological world. Our particular focus is the characterization of macromolecules and biological processes at the molecular level. Research groups in the department address the structure of biological macromolecules, the mechanisms by which they function, and the possible applications to research technology and to medicine. more
Adam L. Hughes, Ph.D.
Organelles provide important compartmentalization of diverse cellular processes such as DNA replication, metabolite synthesis and storage, and proteolytic degradation. The division of cellular activities into distinct compartments necessitates intricate pathways of organelle crosstalk and quality control that are essential for cells to maintain organelle homeostasis in various environments. Failure to maintain organelle integrity is a hallmark of the aging process across species, and serves as the underlying molecular basis for a number of age-associated diseases including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and lysosomal storage disorders. Our lab uses yeast as a model system to identify mechanisms cells use to achieve organelle homeostasis, and understand how failure to maintain organelle integrity contributes to aging and the development of age-associated diseases. More specifically, we are working to identify and characterize new pathways of organelle crosstalk and quality control, and determine how aging and metabolic state impact organelle function and integrity. Along these lines, we recently discovered a new metabolic connection between the lysosome and mitochondria that regulates the aging process and has important implications for understanding how nutrients regulate longevity. We have also uncovered an autophagy-dependent mitochondrial quality control pathway that is functionally similar to a pathway in humans required for the prevention of Parkinson’s disease. Our current work is focused on mechanistically dissecting this mitochondrial quality control pathway at a genome-wide level, and on uncovering the metabolites important for lysosome-mitochondrial crosstalk.