Max Planck Research Group Pernas

Max Planck Research Group Pernas

The metabolism of infection

Some pathogens invade our body’s cells and exploit our metabolism to obtain nutrients for their own growth. In our research, we investigate how cells use metabolic processes and organelles to respond to and defend against such intracellular pathogens. For this, we use the human parasite Toxoplasma gondii as a model pathogen.

The metabolism of a cell, i.e. the processes that store, break down, utilize, import, and export metabolites, stand between an intracellular pathogen and the nutrients it needs to grow. We study the role of host metabolism in the cellular response to infection using Toxoplasma gondii as a model pathogen. Ageing has profound effects on metabolism and the response to microbial infection and therefore provides an optimal angle to begin dissecting these inputs. Ultimately, we hope to better understand how human metabolism influences the progression of infectious disease.

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Selected publications

Mitochondria shed their outer membrane in response to infection-induced stress
Li, X., Straub, J., Medeiros, T. C., Mehra, C., den Brave, F., Peker, E., Atanassov, I., Stillger, K., Michaelis, J. B., Burbridge, E., Adrain, C., Munch, C., Riemer, J., Becker, T., Pernas, L. F.
(2022) Science, 375, 6577, eabi4343

Cellular metabolism in the defense against microbes
Pernas, L.
(2021) J Cell Sci, 134, 5

Mitochondria Restrict Growth of the Intracellular Parasite Toxoplasma gondii by Limiting Its Uptake of Fatty Acids
Pernas, L., Bean, C., Boothroyd, J. C., Scorrano, L.
(2018) Cell Metab, 27, 4, 886-897 e4

Mito-Morphosis: Mitochondrial Fusion, Fission, and Cristae Remodeling as Key Mediators of Cellular Function
Pernas, L., Scorrano, L.
(2016) Annu Rev Physiol, 78, 505-31

Toxoplasma effector MAF1 mediates recruitment of host mitochondria and impacts the host response
Pernas, L., Adomako-Ankomah, Y., Shastri, A. J., Ewald, S. E., Treeck, M., Boyle, J. P., Boothroyd, J. C.
(2014) PLoS Biol, 12, 4, e1001845

Association of host mitochondria with the parasitophorous vacuole during Toxoplasma infection is not dependent on rhoptry proteins ROP2/8
Pernas, L., Boothroyd, J. C.
(2010) Int J Parasitol, 40, 12, 1367-71


2020 - 2024 German Research Foundation (DFG)
Research Training Grant RTG2550 "Dynamic Regulation of Cellular Protein Localization" Member
2016 - 2020  German Research Council
Collaborative Research Center 1218: Mitochondrial Regulation of Cellular Function
2019 - 2022 Chinese Research Council (CRC)
Graduate Fellowship
2020 - 2025  European Research Council (ERC)
ERC Starting Grant (ERC-StG-2019 MITOvTOXO)
2015 - 2018 Life Science Research Foundation (LSRF)
Simons Postdoctoral Fellow
2014  European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO)
Long-term Postdoctoral Fellowship
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