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Biowulf 20th Anniversary Seminar: Modeling complex biological membranes

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Air date: Tuesday, December 3, 2019, 11:00:00 AM
Time displayed is Eastern Time, Washington DC Local
Views: Total views: 90, (64 Live, 26 On-demand)
Category: Biowulf
Runtime: 00:57:44
Description: Due to the dynamic nature and constitutional complexity of a biological membrane, a number of critical questions remain unanswered about its effect on function. How does the compositional asymmetry of the plasma membrane determine its role as a “solvent” for transmembrane proteins? What are the many roles of cholesterol in membranes and how much is in the inner and outer leaflet of the plasma membrane? Do all lipids play a role in defining the structural and mechanical properties of membranes, or are some purely for signaling? Our unit at the NIH applies molecular and continuum simulations to determine the composition-dependent properties of membranes, as well as to investigate the mechanisms that proteins apply to reshape them.

This seminar will report the discovery, at the NIH, of the structures of membranes enriched in cholesterol and the unexpected ways in which cholesterol switches mechanical properties depending on composition. We will also cover the newly discovered properties of sphingolipids that change the mechanical properties of bilayers in a non-linear manner. In addition, the talk will highlight one of the NIH’s applications of machine learning applied to biological discovery. A hidden Markov model identifies and categorizes structural motifs for further physical analysis, reducing the apparent complexity of lipid dynamics to a manageable size. Finally, neutron scattering is one of a limited range of experimental techniques to the fine structure of such a dynamical material as a bilayer. This seminar will look at the development of a new approach to compare simulations to small-angle neutron scattering to reveal nanometer-scale molecular structure.

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Author: Alexander J. Sodt, Ph.D, Stadtman Investigator, NICHD, NIH
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CIT Live ID: 35370
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