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Biological Membranes in Action: A Unified Approach
to Complexation, Scaffolding and Active Transport

Final Report Summary - MEMBRANESACT (Biological Membranes in Action: A Unified Approachto Complexation, Scaffolding and Active Transport)

The formation and transport of supramolecular complexes in membranes is ubiquitous to nearly all functions of biological cells.A variety of experiments suggested that macromolecular complexes act as scaffolds for free proteins, overall yielding obstructed diffusion, counterbalanced by active transport by molecular motors. However, an integrative view connecting complexation and transport was largely missing. Furthermore, the interplay of membrane mediated interactions and (non)-thermal fluctuations were so far overlooked, even though a quantitative insight into protein mediated interactions of membranes is key to understanding the fundamental functioning of cells and tissues.

The MembranesAct team is addressing these intrinsically biological problems, by means of theoretical physics. MembranesAct bridged the divide between the two worlds is significantly contributing to both physics and the life sciences by developing general principles that can be applied to processes in cells and tissues. Specifically, the team focused on phenomena such as active and anomalous transport, as well as on the fundamentals of complexation, and studied its implications on the working of the cells in a complex environment. The project resulted in fundamental understanding of the physical phenomena controling the interactions on the cell surface, which may, one day translate into pharmaceutical applications.