Welcome to Molecular and Integrative Physiology
In this post-genomic era, physiology is uniquely poised at the nexus between molecular function and whole animal integration with the goal of understanding how the functions of thousands of encoded proteins serve to bring about the highly coordinated behavior of cells and tissues underlying physiological functions in animals and how their dysfunction may lead to disease. Research and graduate training in the Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology is focused on understanding the regulation and function of gene products at multiple levels of biological organization, from molecules and macromolecular complexes to cells, tissues, and whole organisms. With the tools of molecular genetics and modern systems biology, physiologists are at the forefront of dramatic advances currently occurring in life and biomedical sciences. Advanced training in molecular and integrative physiology will provide the necessary foundation to prepare for a career in this exciting area of functional biology.
Claudio Grosman, Head
Scientists working to understand the cellular processes linking high cholesterol to breast cancer recurrence and metastasis report that a byproduct of cholesterol metabolism causes some cells to send out cancer-promoting signals to other cells. These signals are packaged in membrane-bound compartments called extracellular vesicles.
A recent study characterized the physiological changes a common environmental chemical, polychlorinated biphenyls, induces on the developing brain and auditory systems. In contrast to the mechanisms that drive most hearing loss, PCBs are capable of restructuring parts of the central nervous system.
Many researchers have postulated that the lipid composition of the membrane containing ion channels is critical for function. However, there are limited data about the structure and function of natively bound lipids. Some molecular simulation experiments have provided some insight; but, data from wet lab experiments are scarce. The lack of information regarding the structural and functional role of natively bound lipids is partially due to the location of these molecules. Most tightly bound lipids are located at the periphery of proteins, where density maps are poorer in quality, and are typically outcompeted by detergent molecules used during standard purification processes.
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A new study, published in JCI insight, looks at how Brd4, a regulator of the innate immune response, influences diet-induced obesity. The researchers believe that Brd4 could be used as a target for obesity and insulin resistance.