Biophysics of lipid-sugar-water interactions
Student Kyle Bussis and Erica Chan
Professor Paul Harper, Calvin College
Tuesday, November 13, 3:45 p.m. SB110
Sugars play important biological roles in lipid membranes, serving, for example, as protectants against freezing and dehydration in plants. Understanding how sugars protect cell membranes could be quite helpful in better preserving cell membranes in human organs destined for transplant. Despite these substantial motivations, the mechanism by which the sugars work is not yet understood. In fact, a number of researchers have come to opposite conclusions on whether sugars are included or excluded. A compromise is emerging that argues for both inclusion and exclusion. Our results can be used to support a quantitative model detailing where and how much sugar resides in a variety of lipid-water-sugar structures.