Lipid membranes are an ancient and defining element of all cells. They are fundamentally involved in a large variety of cellular processes, such as mediating structural organisation, trafficking, and signalling. Over billions of years, lipid and protein makeup of cellular membranes have evolved to exquisite complexity. A large variety of different lipid species, and their organisation is what defines the physicochemical parameters of a membrane, ultimately tailoring it to its specific set of functions. More and more regulatory mechanisms and signalling pathways are being discovered that mediate membrane homeostasis to enable and preserve functionality.
The conserved Target of Rapamycin complex 2 (TORC2 in yeast, or mTORC2 in mammalia) is a key player in plasma membrane (PM) homeostasis by sensing and maintaining PM composition and biophysical properties, such as PM tension. This is best studied in yeast, though the mechanism(s) through which TORC2 monitors PM status is at present only marginally understood.
During my PhD, I aim to further our understanding of how TORC2 senses and reacts to changes in PM status, utilising genetic engineering, biochemical approaches and light microscopy in budding yeast.
I started my PhD as a joined student in Roux and Loewith labs in April 2021. Previously, during my undergrad, I studied Molecular Medicine at the Medical University of Innsbruck. I acquired my fascination for cellular membranes and membrane homeostasis during my Master’s studies in the laboratory of Prof. David Teis, where I studied the regulation of sphingolipid synthesis by ORMDL family proteins (which by the way in budding yeast are an important target of TORC2 signalling 😊).