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BioSoft Colloquium: To bud or not to bud: remodeling of artificial cells

Rumiana Dimova
Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Potsdam, Germany

03 Dec 2020 11:00
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Cellular membranes exhibit a large variation in curvature. It is a common perception that curvature is mainly generated by the activity of specific protein species. Here, we will demonstrate that it can be readily generated by various other asymmetries across the membrane, which plausibly represent a governing factor for defining shapes of membrane organelles and in remodeling them. In this talk, we will introduce approaches employing giant vesicles for the precise quantification of the membrane spontaneous curvature.

BioSoft-DimovaCopyright: Rumiana Dimova

Several examples for generating curvature will be considered: asymmetric distribution of ions on both sides of the membrane, insertion and desorption of the ganglioside GM1 or photo-sensitive molecules from the bilayer leaflets, asymmetry in lipid distribution and asymmetric adsorption of poly(ethylene glycol). All of these factors can drive the spontaneous formation of cylindrical or necklace-like lipid nanotubes.

We will also show how spontaneous curvature generation by protein adsorption at low surface density is able to modulate membrane morphology and topology to the extent of inducing vesicle fission. The presented examples will demonstrate that even in the absence of proteins and active processes, the membrane is easily remodeled by simple physicochemical effects.