We use advanced microscopy to understand how cellular structures perform their functions within the context of the cell environment — and how these functions contribute to health and disease

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 and how they get repaired when damaged. 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 microscopy/tomography and cryo-confocal microscopy approaches with biochemical and cell biological methods.