Donghua Hu, PhD

Postdoc Research Associate

Washington University in St. Louis (WU)

My primary research interests centers around therapeutic expansion or activation of brown adipose tissue (BAT) to treat obesity and metabolic diseases. BAT is characterized by the abundance of mitochondria and is involved in thermogenesis through mechanisms dependent and independent of UCP1, a mitochondrial membrane protein that uncouples respiration from ATP synthesis to generate heat. By leveraging emerging technologies such as CRISPR/Cas9 and mitochondrial proteomics, I discovered that a transmembrane protein called TMEM135 is a critical mediator of the peroxisomal regulation of mitochondrial dynamics and thermogenesis. Using transgenic overexpression and adipose-specific knockout mouse models, I showed that TMEM135 is necessary and sufficient for mitochondrial fission and affects whole-body metabolic homeostasis. I will continue to explore how peroxisome-mitochondria membrane contacts regulate mitochondrial localization of TMEM135 in a plasmalogen-dependent manner and how TMEM135 mediates mitochondrial fission to promote BAT thermogenesis and influence metabolic homeostasis.