Prof. Dr. Tobias Walther is a German biochemist elucidating mechanisms underlying lipid and membrane biology.
He received his Ph.D. from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg in working on nuclear pores in Iain Mattaj’s laboratory. He then trained with Prof. Dr. Peter Walter at UCSF in San Francisco (CA, USA) where he studied membrane biochemistry and cell biology. From 2006 till 2014, his laboratory first at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (Germany) then Yale University (CT, USA) studied mechanism of membrane and lipid biology. Since 2015, Dr. Walther is an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
In 2014, Dr. Walther moved to Harvard in Boston where he directs a laboratory focused on lipid metabolism research with his scientific partner, Dr. Robert Farese, Jr. Since 2019, Drs. Farese and Walther co-direct the laboratory of mechanistic metabolism in the school of life sciences at ShanghaiTech University.
Research of Drs. Farese and Walther focuses on the basic biological mechanisms of synthesis, storage, transport, and metabolism of neutral lipids. Neutral lipids, particularly sterol esters and triacylglycerols (TG), are crucial components of a myriad of fundamental cellular processes. These include energy storage, membrane synthesis, signaling, and intra- and extracellular lipid transport. Excessive lipid storage in tissues underlies prevalent metabolic diseases including atherosclerosis, obesity, fatty liver disease and diabetes. These same processes are also responsible for the production of seed oils and biofuels. In their scientific partnership, Drs. Farese and Walther elucidate key processes governing neutral lipid storage in cellular lipid droplets, as well as the physiology and pathophysiology of lipid storage.
The laboratory uses a variety of biochemical and cell biological approaches to study fundamental mechanisms. The laboratory of Mechanistic Metabolism focuses primarily on biochemistry and structural biology, as well as systems-type approaches to study lipid metabolism.
Piccolis M, Bond LM, Kampmann M, Pulimeno P, Chitraju C, Jayson CBK, Vaites LP, Boland S, Lai ZW, Gabriel KR, Elliott SD, Paulo JA, Harper JW, Weissman JS, Walther TC, Farese RV Jr. Probing the Global Cellular Responses to Lipotoxicity Caused by Saturated Fatty Acids. Mol Cell. 2019 Feb 26. pii: S1097-2765(19)30056-5. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2019.01.036.
Sui X, Arlt H, Brock KP, Lai ZW, DiMaio F, Marks DS, Liao M, Farese RV Jr, Walther TC. Cryo-electron microscopy structure of the lipid droplet-formation protein seipin.J Cell Biol. 2018 Dec 3;217(12):4080-4091. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201809067. Epub 2018 Oct 16.
Prévost C, Sharp ME, Kory N, Lin Q, Voth GA, Farese RV Jr, Walther TC. Mechanism and Determinants of Amphipathic Helix-Containing Protein Targeting to Lipid Droplets.Dev Cell. 2018 Jan 8;44(1):73-86.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2017.12.011. Epub 2018 Jan 8.
Chitraju C, Mejhert N, Haas JT, Diaz-Ramirez LG, Grueter CA, Imbriglio JE, Pinto S, Koliwad SK, Walther TC, Farese RV Jr. Triglyceride Synthesis by DGAT1 Protects Adipocytes from Lipid-Induced ER Stress during Lipolysis.Cell Metab. 2017 Aug 1;26(2):407-418.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2017.07.012.
Wang H, Becuwe M, Housden BE, Chitraju C, Porras AJ, Graham MM, Liu XN, Thiam AR, Savage DB, Agarwal AK, Garg A, Olarte MJ, Lin Q, Fröhlich F, Hannibal-Bach HK, Upadhyayula S, Perrimon N, Kirchhausen T, Ejsing CS, Walther TC, Farese RV. Seipin is required for converting nascent to mature lipid droplets.Elife. 2016 Aug 26;5. pii: e16582. doi: 10.7554/eLife.16582.