A Drosophila molecular genetics lab at the University of Arkansas. We use a combination of genetic, cytogenetic and biochemical approaches to study the coordinated regulation of development and metabolism.

In the Lehmann lab, we are interested in signaling processes that regulate and coordinate development, growth and metabolism. In the past, we have studied how steroid hormones trigger the programmed death of cells at specific times and in specific tissues during development. Currently, our research focuses on roles of a protein of the Lipin family in metabolism and development. In particular, we are interested to understand how Lipin, which is required for normal fat tissue development and cell growth (see illustrations to the left and to the right below) is integrated in and influences regulatory networks that control development and growth. These networks include nutrient-sensitive (TOR), growth factor-controlled (insulin) and steroid hormone-controlled signaling pathways. Our preliminary data show that Lipin interacts with all of these pathways. However, we are far from understanding the exact nature of these interactions. To find answers to our questions, we take advantage of a wealth of information and experimental tools that is available for the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. These tiny insects have proven to be excellent genetic models for studying basic biology for more than 100 years.

Lipins and the regulatory pathways that we are studying are highly conserved between flies and humans. Thus, the results of our work may guide work in human and other mammalian experimental systems. Ultimately, they may help in the fight against disease. For instance, a better understanding of proteins of the Lipin family may be of impact in the fight against the obesity epidemic, which is putting an increasing burden on health systems in many countries around the world.

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