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Following an interdisciplinary collaboration, scientists at Aarhus University have presented a ground-breaking method to study cell membranes. The project’s interdisciplinary character is reflected in the composition of the research team, whose members are affiliated with the Department of Chemistry, the Department of Molecular Biology, Department of Physiology and Biophysics and the Bioinformatics Centre. The authors of the article (from left): Lea Thøgersen, Maria Musgaard, Birgit Schiøtt, Jesper Vuust Møller, Claus Olesen and Poul Nissen. Yonathan Sonntag is missing in the photo. Click photo for larger version (Photo: Lisbeth Heilesen).
Figure 1. Detail of a cell membrane that the scientists have modelled with computer calculations as well as experimental demonstrations. The membrane protein is a calcium pump (light blue), sitting in a cell membrane of fat molecules (green) and also detergent compounds (red, a kind of a soap compound). The scientists have studied how the system adapts to changes related to the function of the pump, and how this depends on the composition and thickness of the membrane (Figure: Maria Musgaard).Figure 2. Presentation of how the membrane and the membrane protein adapt to each other. The membrane is a double layer of fatty molecules shown as two outer surfaces with red and blue colours for adjusting the degree of thickness of the layers indicated by the unit of length Å (1 Ångström = 1 ten millionth of a millimetre). The calcium pump in the membrane is shown as the grey structure, where the blue and light-blue beads show details of the protein alignment of so-called amino acid side chains (Figure 2: Lea Thøgersen). Click figures for larger version.

2011.05.17 | Public / media, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics

Scientists reveal new basic knowledge of cell membranes

Following an interdisciplinary collaboration, scientists at Aarhus University have presented a ground-breaking method to study cell membranes. A better understanding of the complexity of membrane function may give the scientists new ideas for developing new types of medical treatment against prostate cancer, for example. The results have been…