Membranes


Lipid-bilayer membranes, which are essential for the organization and function of all cells, are astonishingly complex. In addition to their roles in protection and compartmentalization, membranes are responsible for a variety of other functions, such as signaling, transport, and adhesion, which are executed by membrane proteins. In fact, the cellular membrane is loaded with proteins: Roughly half its mass is comprised of proteins bound to or embedded within the membrane. The physical forces acting between these inclusions are essential to their assembly and function, yet understanding how such forces assemble highly ordered structures like 'purple membrane' or fold membranes into complex, three-dimensional structures, is challenging. We aim to develop in vitro experimental systems, consisting of few, well-controlled components, to study the physical forces between membrane inclusions, as well as how these forces give rise to organization of membrane-bound objects. This work is supported by Brandeis' Materials Research Science and Engineering Center