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Natalie Thiex

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Macrophage Cell Biology

Dr. Thiex’s laboratory studies signal transduction and vesicular trafficking in macrophages. Our mission is to understand how the molecular machines of the cell function in normal and diseased states. Within that topic we focus on two lines of research:

• Macrophage foam cells are key mediators of atherosclerotic plaque formation and contribute to the leading cause of death – heart disease. We aim to discover the mechanisms of lipid metabolism and causes of cellular dysfunction in these cells.

• Out-of-control growth signaling is a hallmark of pathogenic cellular phenotypes such as seen in cancer cells. Growth factor signaling is controlled by internalization and destruction of activated growth factor receptors. We are working to understand the cellular molecular machinery driving growth factor receptor trafficking to endosomes and macropinosomes. Specifically, we aim to discover how these vesicles mature, tether and fuse with other vesicles such as lysosomes resulting in the degradation of the receptor and control of the growth signal. By discovering these fundamental intracellular mechanisms, we hope to explain how perturbations in cells lead to diseases such as cancer and heart disease.