Skip to Content

<b>Biophysics Pharmacology Seminar</b><br><i>The Language of Shape: Biological Reactions are Dramatically Affected by the Shape of Lipid Membranes</i>

Monday, January 18, 2010
12:00 AM
2736 MS II

Speaker: Dimitrios Stamou (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)

To date the fields of biophysics, biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology have established exhaustive correlations between the lipid composition of membranes and its impact on membrane properties and protein function. However, in addition to composition the shape of cellular membranes appears to be a well-conserved phenotype in evolution. Nevertheless we largely ignore what are the consequences of membrane shape/curvature to biological functions that make it so critical for sustaining life.
The lack of information on the significance of membrane shape has predominantly been due to the absence of reliable assays that allow us to perform systematic experiments as a function of membrane shape/curvature. Professor Stamou and his team have recently demonstrated the possibility to construct a high throughput array of unique nanoscale membrane curvatures. The assay is based on unilamellar liposomes of different diameters (30 nm to 700 nm), and therefore curvature, that are immobilized on a surface at dilute densities allowing for imaging of single liposomes with fluorescence microscopy.
Here Professor Stamou will discuss published and unpublished data on several important classes of biomolecular interactions that exhibited dramatic curvature dependence including i) BAR domains and amphipathic helical peptides, ii) membrane anchoring of lipidated proteins, iii) SNARE-mediated docking of single lipid vesicles.