SURF

Gabriel Weingart

Analyzing the Effects of Copper on Lipid Droplet Formation in Hepatocytes

Lipid droplets are vital organelles present in various cell types that act as a site for energy and vitamin storage, lipoprotein and cholesterol synthesis, and detoxification. Abnormalities related to lipid droplets in liver cells have been shown to correlate to the pathogenesis of fatty liver disease and diabetes. Copper also plays an indispensable role in the body, functioning as a cofactor for several key proteins, the improper regulation of which has been linked to Wilsons disease, Menkes disease, and diabetes as well. Previous work from our lab has demonstrated that inducing lipolysis, the breakdown of lipid droplets, causes copper to efflux from the cell. My project will focus on investigating the converse to determine how copper affects lipid droplet formation. By performing knockdowns of CTR1 and ATP7A, the copper uptake and efflux proteins respectively, we can modulate the cells copper concentration and use lipid staining procedures to determine a correlation between lipid droplets and copper.

Message to Sponsor

The SURF / Rose Hills program provides both the finances to stay in Berkeley to continue my research over the summer and more importantly, the resources to advance my knowledge about the world of research. The ability to engross myself in a project for an entire summer and to present my research at the conference will offer invaluable experience that I am sure to benefit from throughout my entire research career. In addition, the convenient access to mentors both within my lab and afforded by the SURF program will allow me to develop into a capable scientist. Thank you again for this phenomenal opportunity!
  • Major: Chemical Biology
  • Sponsor: Rose Hills Foundation
  • Mentor: Christopher Chang, Chemistry