Dr. Lena Pernas

Research Group Leader - MPI for Biology of Ageing

Lena Pernas

Principal Investigator, Research Group Leader MPI AGE


MPI for Biology of Ageing

Joseph-Stelzmann-Str. 9b

50931 Köln

The metabolism of infection

We are interested in how organellar function and metabolic processes are rewired to defend against microbial infection. We are also interested in mitochondrial regulation of cholesterol metabolism.

Our research: The prevailing perception is that the host cell is an exploitable ‘growth media’ for microbes. However, a logical consequence of microbial manipulation of host metabolism is the emergence of host metabolic counterstrategies to limit exploitation by microbes and restrict their growth. The research focus of our lab is the study of how metabolism is rewired to execute cellular defense against microbes. A key interest of our studies therefore is elucidating the inputs that rewire metabolism during infection. Aging has profound effects on metabolism and the response to microbial infection and therefore provides an optimal angle to begin dissecting these inputs. We use the genetically tractable human parasite Toxoplasma gondii as a model pathogen and combine advanced live-cell imaging, protein and metabolite profiling, and genetic screens, with molecular and biochemical approaches.

Our goals: The overarching goal of the Pernas lab is to discover interesting biology and understand how human metabolism influences the progression of infectious disease at the cellular and organismal level.

Our methods/techniques: We use a multidisciplinary approach that integrates state-of-the-art imaging techniques, biochemical approaches that enable the purification and subsequent proteomic/metabolomic analysis of whole organelles, and CRISPR/Cas9-enabled loss-of-function screening approaches. We study the model pathogen and human parasite Toxoplasma gondii in vitro in cells from diverse tissues and in mice.