Further understanding of cell membrane organisation uncovered

Published on 12 March 2020

An interdisciplinary study investigating cell membrane dynamics has been published in Science Advances.

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The multi-institute collaboration involved Rastko Sknepnek, a Senior Lecturer in Physics based in Life Sciences and Science and Engineering in the University and was led by Satyajit Mayor and Madan Rao, both from the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India.

Rastko explained the key findings of the study, "Recent experiments suggest that several membrane proteins form clusters due to pulling by F-actin and myosin at the cortex. The mechanism of clustering is due to transient asters-like structures generated by actin and myosin. Myosin-II, however, is a large molecule and hence there are concerns about steric effects that might obstruct the formation of clusters. In this work, we used computer simulations that respect the size of constituents, to explore the effect of steric hindrance on the formation of asters in two dimensions. We showed that in order to reproduce aster structures observed in experiments it is essential that F-actin and Myosin-II molecules are stratified into a layer structure. Using super-resolution microscopy, we find direct evidence for stratification in the in-vitro system. Our study suggests the possibility that molecular stratification may be an important organising feature of the cortical cytoskeleton in-vivo."

The Science Advances paper is out now.