Probing (and Changing) the Mechanical Properties of Cell Membranes
15:00 - 16:00
University of Oxford, Trinity College
CFEL (Bldg. 99)
Seminar Room 02.104
Cell membranes are formed of lipid bilayers, and separate the interiors of all living cells from the surroundings. They have an integral role in maintaining the internal environment of cells. Anaesthetics have been shown to have a potency directly proportional to their affinity for lipid substances, strongly implying that the effect of anaesthesia is due to the action on cell membranes of the anaesthetic molecules. Previous studies have demonstrated the effects of anaesthetics on lipid melting points, but no experiments have looked at changes in mechanical properties.
force feedback response of a bilayer of dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine
(DPPC) is directly observed by indentation with an atomic force microscope,
along with some qualitative effects of anaesthetic exposure. This talk will
outline current knowledge on the subject, and explain methods by which these
properties are probed. Some speculation on the outcomes of the rest
of this experiment, observing the force feedback response after
exposing DPPC to an anaesthetic, will be included. Observing force feedback
response of DPPC after exposure to anaesthetics can provide clues as to how
these molecules block signals in neurons.