My research focuses on secretory processes in lung epithelial cells. The lungs contain several secretory cell types which use regulated exocytosis. Secretory cells in the airways release mucins, which help to keep the lungs free of pathogens. In contrast, secretory type II cells of the lung alveoli secrete lipo-protein surfactant, which reduces surface tension of the alveolar lining fluid and enables inspiration. Alveolar type II cells have large secretory vesicles and a particularly slow, sequential fusion process, which makes them an ideal cell model to study single vesicle fusion events in living cells by using high-resolution microscopy methods. My research encompasses different stages of exocytosis, with focus on regulation of vesicle content release after fusion pore opening.
In addition to investigating basic mechanisms of secretion I am interested in pathological alterations of the secretory mechanisms in lung cells and their implications for lung function.