Our cells — like all eukaryotic cells — contain more than a dozen types of membrane-encapsulated compartments, called organelles, that perform specific jobs to maintain cell health and function. In the Mosalaganti lab, we investigate one of these organelle types, lysosomes, and their roles in human health and disease.
Lysosomes were initially thought to primarily serve a role of ‘waste management,’ degrading and recycling unwanted or damaged components within the cell. More recent research has shown that these organelles perform a plethora of cellular functions, most importantly in integrating a variety of different environmental and physiological signals.
Lysosomes are now considered a decision-making center controlling cellular growth and survival. Their function is highly dependent on proper positioning within the cell, as well as their ability coordinate activity with other organelles. Malfunctioning lysosomes play a role in a wide range of diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disorders.
Our primary goal is to provide structural snapshots of how lysosomes perform their functions, how they get repaired when damaged and how they communicate with other organelles to maintain cellular fitness. We are particularly interested in visualizing the distinct stages of lysosomal function within the cellular environment at unprecedented spatial resolution. These studies will reveal how mutations in lysosomal pathways lead to loss of function, reduced cellular viability and, consequently, disease.
To achieve this goal, we combine state-of-the-art cryo-electron tomography approaches with biochemical and cell biological methods.