Research background – University of Copenhagen

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Background and research approach

In biological systems it is very seldom that we find meaningless structures or processes. Everything is product of millions of years of natural selection and is the result to a positively selected biological need. Classical biochemistry has for many years been based on metabolites and biochemical enzymatic measurements in tissue homogenates. In my mind, this research approach is equivalent to investigate our planet and human society, as the complex system it is, by breaking it in pieces

and then measuring: energy supplies (metabolites), working power (enzymes)... We all know that with this information we will never understand the way human society is working. We need to take into account geography (relative placement of cells versus the whole body and the cells surrounding it), frontiers (compartmentalization by plasma membranes and intracellular membrane systems), and heterogeneity of resources distribution (differences in metabolites and protein concentrations between different cell types and inside diverse cellular compartments). Thus, with my research I am trying to understand muscle metabolism by integrating classic biochemical and molecular biology approaches with morphology and cell biology information.  

A cell is not a bag full of metabolites, substrates, proteins, lipids, carbohydrates... Cells are complexly compartmentalized systems, where some compartments are clearly delimited by membranes and others are based on dynamic rearrangement and binding of proteins. Metabolic regulation can only be understood as several pathways interacting with each other in a multi-compartment dynamic system. Understanding such complex system is an essential step, which can only be done by integrating genetic, biochemical and/or molecular biology with microscopy analysis in vivo and/or in situ.

My work during the last 4 years has shown novel mechanisms of muscle lipid and glucose metabolism regulation based on intracellular compartmentalization (Prats 2005, 2006 and 2009). My present research is focused on identifying potential alterations of muscle metabolic state, morphology and/or impairments of intracellular compartmentalized processes on pathological states such as obesity-induced insulin resistance, dyslipidemias, hypertension and/or diabetes mellitus.

Read about the on going projects.