One of the major challenges is to understand the structural behavior and functionality of cell membranes. Its exceptional mechanical properties combine perfectly flexibility and stability. Elasticity could also provide a mechanism for lipid-prote interactions that can lead to a lipid-mediated selective protein aggregation. This process is also of direct importance in the design of novel biomaterials. From the physical point of view, one of the most fascinating phenomena is the shape changes and local instabilities of cell membranes.
By performing Monte carlo simulations of coarse-grained models, we'll be able to deal with systems with a large number c molecules. It will allow us the study of phase transitions and demixing processes, such as protein segregation in membrane and how this process is driven by the generation of curvature in the membrane.
To study of the effect of membrane proteins on the curvature of lipid-bilayers we'll proceed as follows:
1- Develope a coarse-grained model membrane that reproduces experimental behavior. 2-. Study the effect of protein insertion. How does a bilayer membrane change its local curvature at a particular site where single protein is inserted?, how the geometry of the protein is related to the succesful local bending of the membrane?. 3- Study the lipid-mediated protein interaction process in: (a) Flat membranes and (b) Fluctuating surfaces. 4-.Determine whether protein clustering is driven by the development of curvature.
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
The training aspect of this proposal focusses in getting a deeper knowledge in the main scientific area of the applicant and acquire new methods and techniques of analysis for the system described. Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)