Seeing is believing and it is the numbers that matter
Lipids are ubiquitous and dynamic regulatory molecules and their biological functions depend on their subcellular locations and local concentrations. Our newly developed in situ quantitative lipid imaging technology (Nature Chemistry, 2011; Angew. Chem., 2014) has not only demonstrated high-resolution spatiotemporal dynamics of various lipids but also provided new insight into how lipid molecules regulate complex cellular processes. We are currently developing specific fluorescence-based sensors for a wide variety of lipids. These sensors will help us elucidate the cellular dynamics of these lipids and discover their new cellular activities. They can be also used as biomarkers for various human diseases. We are also developing new imaging technologies to simultaneously monitor cellular concentrations of multiple lipids and the activities of lipid-binding proteins in live cells and tissues.
Our in situ quantitative imaging demonstrates how the concentration of a lipid fluctuates during phagocytosis of a macrophage. Dramatic enrichment of the lipid (red spikes) is shown in the pseudopod of the macrophage that wraps around a target cell.