Gerry Hammond, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor
  • Department of Cell Biology

Education & Training

  • Ph.D (Biochemistry). 2005. University College London, UK
  • B.Sc (Cell Biology). 2001. University College London, UK

Research Interest Summary

Lipid control of membrane homeostasis in health and disease

Research Categories

Research Interests

Membranes are sites of some of the most frantic cellular activity. As well as forming simple barriers that partition the cell and its internal compartments, membranes play host to thousands of proteins that carry out many of the incessant processes required for life. This partnership between lipid membranes and proteins provides a catalytic surface for cellular metabolism, controls the flux of materials and information across compartments, integrates these compartments with the cell’s cytoskeletal infrastructure and controls the budding and fusion of vesicles that transport materials between them. Malfunction of these pathways is associated with many diseases, from cancer to the common cold.
Although function is primarily associated with proteins, the cell needs a mechanisms to recruit, activate and co-ordinate the correct suite of proteins on a given membrane. Often relegated to simple inert building blocks of membranes, lipids are in fact increasingly recognized as key players in this process with one family – the inositol lipids – appearing to function as master regulators of this molecular choreography.
Our lab is particularly interested in the function of the plasma membrane, where one particular inositol lipid, commonly known as PIP2, is a key player in membrane protein recruitment and/or activation. Uniquely, this lipid is also a substrate to generate second messengers that transduce many of the signals from the cell’s surroundings. As such, PIP2 regulates plasma membrane function in general, and failures in specific interactions of the lipid or its synthesis are contributors in cancer, hereditary and infectious diseases. Our goal is to understand how PIP2 is able to co-ordinate the plethora of cellular functions it regulates, as well as precisely how and why failures in specific elements of its synthesis or interactions lead to relatively subtle modifications of cellular function that cause disease, as opposed to a general collapse of plasma membrane function and cell death.

Representative Publications

Hammond GR, Sim Y, Lagnado L, Irvine RF. Reversible binding and rapid diffusion of proteins in complex with inositol lipids serves to coordinate free movement with spatial information. The Journal of cell biology. 2009; 184(2):297-308. PubMed [journal] PMID: 19153221, PMCID: PMC2654307

Hammond GR, Schiavo G, Irvine RF. Immunocytochemical techniques reveal multiple, distinct cellular pools of PtdIns4P and PtdIns(4,5)P(2). The Biochemical journal. 2009; 422(1):23-35. PubMed [journal] PMID: 19508231, PMCID: PMC2722159 Lindner M, Leitner MG, Halaszovich CR, Hammond GR, Oliver D. Probing the regulation of TASK potassium channels by PI4,5P₂ with switchable phosphoinositide phosphatases. The Journal of physiology. 2011; 589(Pt 13):3149-62. PubMed [journal] PMID: 21540350, PMCID: PMC3145931

Kruse M, Hammond GR, Hille B. Regulation of voltage-gated potassium channels by PI(4,5)P2. The Journal of general physiology. 2012; 140(2):189-205. PubMed [journal] PMID: 22851677, PMCID: PMC3409096

Hammond GR, Fischer MJ, Anderson KE, Holdich J, Koteci A, et al. PI4P and PI(4,5)P2 are essential but independent lipid determinants of membrane identity. Science (New York, N.Y.). 2012; 337(6095):727-30. NIHMSID: NIHMS463664 PubMed [journal] PMID: 22722250, PMCID: PMC3646512

Hammond GR. Membrane biology: Making light work of lipids. Current biology : CB. 2012; 22(20):R869-71. PubMed [journal] PMID: 23098593

Lukacs V, Yudin Y, Hammond GR, Sharma E, Fukami K, et al. Distinctive changes in plasma membrane phosphoinositides underlie differential regulation of TRPV1 in nociceptive neurons. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2013; 33(28):11451-63. PubMed [journal] PMID: 23843517, PMCID: PMC3724548

Bojjireddy N, Botyanszki J, Hammond G, Creech D, Peterson R, et al. Pharmacological and genetic targeting of the PI4KA enzyme reveals its important role in maintaining plasma membrane phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate and phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate levels. The Journal of biological chemistry. 2014; 289(9):6120-32. PubMed [journal] PMID: 24415756, PMCID: PMC3937678

Hammond GR, Machner MP, Balla T. A novel probe for phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate reveals multiple pools beyond the Golgi. The Journal of cell biology. 2014; 205(1):113-26. PubMed [journal] PMID: 24711504, PMCID: PMC3987136

Hammond GR, Balla T. A tail of new lipids. The EMBO journal. 2014; 33(19):2140-1. PubMed [journal] PMID: 25180229, PMCID: PMC4282502

Hammond GR, Balla T. Polyphosphoinositide binding domains: Key to inositol lipid biology. Biochimica et biophysica acta. 2015; 1851(6):746-58. NIHMSID: NIHMS634217 PubMed [journal] PMID: 25732852, PMCID: PMC4380703

Full List of Publications