|Charles E. Martin, Ph.D., Professor
B323 Nelson Labs
604 Allison Road
Piscataway, NJ 08854-6999
VOICE: (732) 445-1633
FAX: (732) 445-0644
Visit the Martin Lab
Work in Prof. Charles Martin’s laboratory is focused on problems relating to the structure, mechanism of function and regulation of two types of ER membrane enzyme systems. Fatty acid desaturases convert saturated fatty acids to unsaturates. Fatty acid elongation enzymes convert long chain (C14 - C18) fatty acids into very long chain (C26 - C28)species by a series of reactions. Unsaturated fatty acids are important components of membrane lipids that make up the hydrophobic (oil-like) core of the membrane lipid bilayer.
Problems that are under study in the laboratory involve the coordinated regulation and structural organization of membrane-bound enzyme systems that are responsible for fatty acid desaturation, sterol modification and fatty acid elongation. Mutations in the regulation and function of these systems are the basis of a number of devastating human diseases, including atherosclerosis and severe neurological disorders. We have identified two independent fatty acid and oxygen-responsive, regulatory mechanisms that control this complex system of enzymes. One works by controlling transcription and the other works at the level of mRNA stability. Both systems are activated by membrane-bound protein sensors that are cleaved by a unique ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis. This releases soluble fragments of the sensor proteins that are translocated to the nucleus where they act to control gene expression.
We are currently involved in studies that will identify and determine the functions of the fatty acid and molecular oxygen “detectors” and signal transduction components of these regulatory circuits that activate transcription and control mRNA stability.