Faculty seminar - Making the Plasma Membrane: uncovering the principles and significance of lipid remodeling along the biosynthetic pathway


Event details

Date 14.12.2023
Hour 12:1513:15
Speaker Giovanni D'Angelo
Location Online
Category Conferences - Seminars
Event Language English
Eukaryotic cells produce thousands of lipids that populate their membranes in varying proportions. The lipid composition of membranes determines their thickness, fluidity, and phase behavior. Moreover, lipids function as first or second messengers in signal transduction and recruit proteins to specific cellular locations, playing a pivotal organizational role in eukaryotic cells.
An example of lipid diversity is found in membranes of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and subsequent compartments of the biosynthetic pathway, such as the plasma membrane (PM). While ER membranes have low levels of sterols and sphingolipids, these lipids constitute significant fractions of the extracellular leaflet of the PM. The transition between these two "lipid territories" occurs at the trans-Golgi and is driven by non-vesicular lipid exchange, facilitated by intracellular lipid transfer proteins (LTPs) at ER-trans-Golgi membrane contact sites (ER-TG MCSs). Despite its importance in controlling lipid distribution, the operating principles and significance of lipid remodeling along the biosynthetic pathway remain poorly understood.
In the Lipid Cell Biology Laboratory, we address these issues by focusing on three central questions:
(i) How is the PM lipid territory formed?
(ii) How is the PM lipid territory maintained?
(iii) What is the significance of PM lipid compositional diversity?
Our investigation led to the hypothesis that individual cells exist in specific PM lipid compositional states that interact with signaling and transcriptional configurations to determine cellular phenotypes.

Giovanni D’Angelo graduated in 2003 with an MSc in Medical Biotechnology from the School of Medicine, University “Federico II” of Naples, Italy, and obtained his PhD in Cell Biology in 2008 from the Consorzio ‘Mario Negri’ SUD in Santa Maria Imbaro, Italy. For his postdoctoral training, he moved to the Telethon Institute for Genetics and Medicine in Naples, Italy, to study sphingolipid metabolism and intracellular lipid trafficking.

In 2012, Giovanni moved to the Institute of Protein Biochemistry at the National Research Council of Italy as a principal investigator. In 2018, he joined EPFL as an Assistant Professor and Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Chair on Metabolism. Since 2022, Giovanni has been an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Stony Brook University, NY, USA. Giovanni's primary interest lies in understanding the significance of compositional variability in cell membranes by studying the mechanisms that determine lipid composition.

This seminar is part of the evaluation of Dr D’Angelo for the promotion to associate professor.

Practical information

  • Informed public
  • Free


  • Deanship SV


  • Manuelle Mary


Lipid trafficking Single-cell Lipidomics Membrane Biology Membrane contact sites Sphingolipids