Physical Approaches to Membrane Asymmetry

665. WE-Heraeus-Seminar


25 Mar - 28 Mar 2018


Physikzentrum Bad Honnef

Scientific organizers:

Prof. H. Heerklotz, U Freiburg • Dr. S. Fiedler, U Toronto/CAN

Cells and organelles establish different lipid compositions and properties in the outer and inner lipid leaflet. The complex and energy consuming machineries needed to regulate and maintain this state imply that membrane asymmetry is a key property for proper function of the membrane and, in turn, the survival of the cell. Until recently, this apparently crucial property could hardly be addressed in model membrane studies since asymmetric models were available only to a very limited extent. As a consequence, only rather few, pioneering studies have provided insight into the specific functions of membrane asymmetry. Presently, there is encouraging progress in developing easy-to-prepare, asymmetric membrane models in the form of liposomes, free standing bilayers, and solid supported membranes. It can be expected that such models will soon become the standard systems for biophysical membrane studies and allow for a boost in our knowledge of asymmetry effects on membrane proteins and membrane processes.

The seminar aims at gathering the now-forming scientific community of researchers working on membrane asymmetry and at reviewing the state of the art with respect to:

  • Preparing model membranes with asymmetric lipid composition
  • Understanding the physical properties of asymmetric membranes with emphasis on domain organization, lateral pressure, surface potential, order, and dynamics
  • Indentifying the asymmetric membrane compositions of biological systems at specific locations and under given conditions
  • Characterizing the functions of membrane asymmetry for tuning the activity of membrane proteins and for governing bending, fusion, fission, and other membrane processes.

Given that asymmetric liposomes and bilayers are likely to become attractive, standard biomembrane models in the near future, the meeting will be of interest for the whole membrane biophysics community.

Further information can be found at this website