Universiteit Leiden

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Proefschrift

Physics implications of shape on biological function

Shape and biological function are tightly connected. Physical descriptions are used to connect the shape of a biological system with its function.

Auteur
Pomp, W.
Datum
05 december 2017
Links
Thesis in Repository

Shape and biological function are tightly connected. Physical descriptions are used to connect the shape of a biological system with its function. One system investigated here is the dendritic spine, which is the connection between neurons. The dendritic spine is mimicked in an artificial system. In this way, I was able to show that the shape of the dendritic spine is important in memory and learning. The shape of a cell itself is governed by its actin cytoskeleton. I showed that a simple model can be used to describe the shape of adherent cells. An adherent cell attaches itself at discrete points to the substrate. The edge of the cell in between these points can be described as a part of an ellipse. I show that all edges of a single cell can all be described with a single ellipse. On a small scale, the shape of the membrane of a cell changes with changing lipid content. I used light to change the lipid content, triggering phase unmixing in an artificial lipid membrane. I show that various important parameters change significantly.

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