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Cholesterol and Sugar Uptake Mechanisms

Project description

Taking a bite out of cholesterol and sugar uptake mysteries

Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer continue to take a devastating toll on society, with cholesterol and sugar uptake playing a major role in their development. Despite years of research, the molecular mechanisms underlying these processes are still shrouded in mystery. Funded by the European Research Council, the CSUMECH project aims to unravel these mysteries using cutting-edge methods like macromolecular crystallography and electron microscopy. CSUMECH has the potential to uncover ground-breaking insights into human biochemistry. By shedding light on the fundamental principles of endocytotic uptake and facilitated diffusion systems, this project could pave the way for exciting new discoveries in the field of human biochemistry, and help improve public health around the world.


Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer have a dramatic impact on modern society, and in great part are related to uptake of cholesterol and sugar. We still know surprisingly little about the molecular details of the processes that goes on in this essential part of human basic metabolism. This application addresses cholesterol and sugar transport and aim to elucidate the molecular mechanism of cholesterol and sugar uptake in humans. It moves the frontiers of the field by shifting the focus to in vitro work allowing hitherto untried structural and biochemical experiments to be performed.
Cholesterol uptake from the intestine is mediated by the membrane protein NPC1L1. Despite extensive research, the molecular mechanism of NPC1L1-dependent cholesterol uptake still remains largely unknown.
Facilitated sugar transport in humans is made possible by sugar transporters called GLUTs and SWEETs, and every cell possesses these sugar transport systems. For all these uptake systems structural information is sorely lacking to address important mechanistic questions to help elucidate their molecular mechanism.
I will address this using a complementary set of methods founded in macromolecular crystallography and electron microscopy to determine the 3-dimensional structures of key players in these uptake systems. My unpublished preliminary results have established the feasibility of this approach. This will be followed up by biochemical characterization of the molecular mechanism in vitro and in silico.
This high risk/high reward membrane protein proposal could lead to a breakthrough in how we approach human biochemical pathways that are linked to trans-membrane transport. An improved understanding of cholesterol and sugar homeostasis has tremendous potential for improving general public health, and furthermore this proposal will help to uncover general principles of endocytotic uptake and facilitated diffusion systems at the molecular level.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 499 848,00
8000 Aarhus C

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Danmark Midtjylland Østjylland
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 499 848,00

Beneficiaries (1)