The Kornmann Laboratory studies the ultrastructural organization of the cell and the biology of organelles. Organelles are separate yet interdependent units of the eukaryotic cells. They provide an appropriate milieu for the catalysis of specific biochemical reactions. On the other hand, the compartmentalization of the cell also creates the need for ultrastructural organization of the cell and communication routes that allow the exchange of metabolites and information across the cell. Our lab focuses mainly on mitochondria and on how mitochondria communicate with their neighboring environment in an integrated fashion.

Specific Questions of Interest

How are lipid molecules brought to mitochondrial membranes?

While lipids can use vesicular transport to navigate through the endomembrane, they have to use other means to reach mitochondria. Contact sites between organelles are thought to be lipid exchange platforms. In fact, the emerging picture is that lipid exchange at contact sites is not only occurring at mitochondria but is also happening within the endomembrane. We study the molecular components of these contact sites and decipher how each contact site contributes to intracellular lipid fluxes in a networked fashion.

How do mitochondria cope with mechanical stimuli?

Mitochondria cohabit in the cytoplasm with a myriad of other structures, all of which are constantly being transported and remodelled. This means that the cytoplasm is a mechanically challenging environment. We study how mitochondria respond to mechanical stimuli. We discovered that compressive force applied on mitochondria caused mitochondria to divide at the site of mechanical stimulation. This division happens via the recruitment of a fission machinery via proteins that can sense the diameter of mitochondria.

How is the mitochondrial network maintained through the life cycle of a cell

Mitochondria form an intricate and dynamic network. This network undergoes massive changes at the onset of mitosis and needs to be reestablished afterwards. We study mitotic-specific mitochondrial transport in human cells and decipher the molecular mechanisms as well as the physiological implications of this phenomenon.

Techniques we develop

Saturated Transposon Analysis in Yeast (SATAY)

A simple method to identify all genes or portions of genes necessary for the growth of a yeast cell in any particular condition

See our dedicated website.

An Animation that explains the principles of SATAY

And the original publication.

Techniques we use

Yeast Molecular Genetics

Lipidomics / Mass Spectrometry

Live/ super-resolution fluorescence microscopy

Next Generation Sequencing