Home > Research groups > Membrane transport (Gasnier)


The nervous system is exquisitely compartmentalized at multiple levels. At biochemical level, this compartmentalization involves the sequestration and clearance of ions, signaling molecules and metabolites by transmembrane import and export into/from specific neural cells and, within cells, into/from specific organelles. These transport processes are performed by membrane channels and transporters, which are often essential for the function and health of the nervous system.

Our research focuses on intracellular transporters: (i) neurotransmitter transporters from synaptic vesicles and (ii) metabolite transporters from lysosomes and endosomes.
Neurotransmitter transporters are essential for the operation and modulation of synaptic transmission. On the other hand, lysosomal transporters participate in the degradation of damaged or aging components in the endocytic and autophagic pathways, a catabolic process which is essential for the survival and maintenance of eukaryotic cells, in particular long-lived postmitotic cells such as neurons. Lysosomal transporters terminate this process by exporting building blocks released from degraded macromolecules and organelles for subsequent reuse in biosynthetic pathways. They also represent the final effectors of metabolite homeostasis in the autophagic response to nutrient starvation. Because lysosomal membrane transport still represents a significant knowledge gap in cell biology, we also study these proteins and their dysfunction in non-neural cells.

Current projects include:

  1. Identification and characterization of novel lysosomal transporters
  2. Pathogenesis and therapy of lysosomal diseases
  3. Application of optical approaches to the study of small-molecule transport processes in their natural settings

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