David J. Kast, PhD

David J. Kast, PhD

Assistant Professor, Cell Biology and Physiology

Research Interest

Metabolic Regulation

Category(ies) of Research


Descriptor of Research

Failure to store or catabolize free fatty acids in or catabolize lipids from lipid droplets lies at the heart of prevalent metabolic diseases that constitute major health problems in the United States. In particular, excessive accumulation of lipid droplets is the hallmark of several prevalent and inter-related diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and insulin resistance. In all of these cases, the lipid storage system becomes overtaxed, resulting in increased circulation of fatty acids and/or cholesterol esters, which can lead to mitochondrial dysfunction and lipotoxicity. We have identified several understudied autophagy-related proteins that reside on the surface of lipid droplets and play a critical role in fatty acid metabolism. It is now our goal to (1) understand the mechanistic role of these proteins in lipid droplet metabolism, (2) investigate the role of these proteins in coordinating interactions between metabolic organelles, and (3) examine the therapeutic potential of modulating the activities of these proteins.