Universiteit Leiden

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Interactions from lipid membrane deformations

Biological cells, the basic building blocks of all life forms, are surrounded by a lipid membrane. More than half of the membrane is occupied by membrane proteins, which can regulate the cell functionality through specific arrangements.

A. Azadbakht
11 januari 2024
Thesis in Leiden Repository

To regulate the arrangements several proteins have to work together. In addition to direct forces, there exists an indirect force between the proteins, which stems from their deformation of the membrane and contributes to their self-organization. Since the actual membrane is very crowded and proteins are too tiny and complex to measure this interaction, in this thesis we used a model system consisting of lipid membranes and solid particles to study the deformation-mediated interaction. We experimentally confirmed for the first time that, unlike many known forces, this deformation-mediated interaction is not additive, i.e. the strength and range of three (or more) deformations cannot be obtained by simple addition of the interactions between pairs of deformations. We found that the interaction weakens with increasing number of membrane-deforming particles and that the particle become less ordered. We investigated deformations in both directions of the membrane and found that the interaction can be both repulsive and attractive, and furthermore depends on the shape of the deformation. This thesis helps to better understand the organization of proteins that deform cellular membranes.

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