Investigation of dynamics to probe the interaction between proteins and lipids in artificial membranes

Ila Nila

The cell membrane or the plasma membrane which is made up of a lipid bilayer, acts as a barrier protecting the cellular components from the external environment. The complexity of this lipid bilayer is not only due to differences in the chemistry and composition of phospholipids, sphingomyelins, and sterols, but also due to the existence of different protein molecules which crowd the membrane. Artificial membrane mimicking lipid bilayers of varying composition can be prepared either as free standing membranes or as supported membranes on a solid substrate. Our objective is to study the interaction, structure and dynamics of proteins with artificial membranes using several imaging techniques with the focus on super resolution fluorescence imaging such as stimulated emission depletion spectroscopy (STED) which can break the optical resolution barrier. The differences in physicochemical properties and concentration of the interacting molecules (proteins or synthetic polymers) are expected to alter the membrane structure and lipid dynamics. An understanding of these interactions on model membrane platforms with specific phospholipids, proteins and synthetic polymers, can potentially be used to develop sensitive and biocompatible sensors.