Effects of Lipids and Mutations on Ca++ Regulation
Todd Hennessey Principal Investigator
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Although this work will be done on a very simple unicellular organism, the protozoan Paramecium, it will examine a very basic problem which is common to all animal cells, including human ones. The problem stems from the fact that membranes are made up largely by lipids and, therefore, lipid composition determines the properties of other membrane constituents, such as membrane channels. Changes in the properties of the channels results, in turn, in the imbalance of the ion metabolism of cells, an event which ultimately leads to cell pathology and death. Dr. Hennessey has shown that in Paramecium there are a number of spontaneous mutations which affect the composition of membrane lipids. Some of these mutations result in abnormalities of calcium metabolism. These abnormalities can be "cured" by injecting in the mutated protozoa droplets of cytoplasm of wild ones. The objective of this research is to find out which particular constituent of the injected cytoplasm is effective in curing the defect caused by the mutation.