Our laboratory takes an integrative approach to study the biology of peroxisomes in the context of metabolic disorders, such as obesity and diabetes. Peroxisomes are intimately associated with lipid droplets and mitochondria. Their ability to carry out fatty acid oxidation and lipid synthesis, especially the production of ether-linked phospholipids, may be critical for generating cellular signals required for normal physiology. We have developed several new mouse models to study various aspects of peroxisome biology, including peroxisomal biogenesis, fatty acid oxidation, and ether lipid synthesis. We are interested in the physiological roles of these processes in various metabolic organs, such as adipose tissue, pancreatic islets, liver, and skeletal muscle. The major focus is on the role of peroxisomes in adipose tissue.
Adipose tissue is a complex metabolic organ that regulates whole body energy balance. Two major types of adipose tissue are found in mammals, white fat and brown fat. Both types store energy as triglyceride in intracellular lipid droplets and secrete a host of hormones, called adipokines, which influence metabolic homeostasis. White adipose tissue primarily stores fat, which can be mobilized in times of need. In contrast, brown adipose tissue is highly specialized for transforming the chemical energy in food into heat through uncoupled respiration. The current studies are aimed at understanding the role of peroxisomal dynamics in adipose tissue development and function. In addition, we are interested in understanding the interaction of peroxisomes with other organelles and the role of these interactions in adipose tissue remodeling and thermogenesis