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Macromolecular crowding in membranes


The aim of the project is to understand, quantify and model the influence of protein crowding in membranes on molecular mobility and interactions of membrane proteins and ultimately on cellular processes in particular signalling. In cellular membranes proteins occupy almost half of the available surface.

Obviously, this high total concentration of macromolecules within the membrane will influence processes in the membrane, even while the concentration of proteins involved in a particular process itself is low. Phenomenological data from animal models showed that signalling kinetics and sensitivity in the visual process, thus likely in G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) signalling in general is strongly depending on the membrane-protein concentration.

However, t he influence of macromolecular crowding on interaction kinetics and equilibria has not been studied experimentally in membranes so far. An in vitro system will be established, in order to monitor how protein-protein interactions in membranes are effected by increasing concentrations of proteins in the membrane. As a read out, state of the art single-molecule fluorescence techniques will be used.

Finally, the findings will be related to data obtained in living cells, establishing the relevance of macromolecular crowding in membranes for biological systems and GPCRs specifically.

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CH B3 494 Lausanne

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