Changes in the curvature of the cell membrane play an important role in many important biological processes, including cell division, vesicle trafficking, and neurotransmission. These changes in morphology are not just a passive consequence of other events in the cell, but can also drive the action of other proteins. For example, changes in curvature are thought to affect protein binding, the gating kinetics of ion channels, and to direct the localisation of proteins in vivo.
Although current methods can measure the presence of such interactions, they cannot directly measure real-time changes in membrane curvature or correlate individual protein binding events with changes in curvature. Dr Junhong Lu has a proven track record in Biological Atomic Force Microscopy. We propose to combine his expertise with new synthetic mimics of the cell membrane recently produced in the laboratory of Dr Mark Wallace at Oxford University. This combination of methods will enable us to manipulate and characterize the curvature of the cell membrane, and study its effects on protein function using single-molecule methods.
Fields of science
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