Research Topic

Molecular organisation of membranes: where biology meets biophysics

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About this Research Topic

Biological membranes protect cells and organelles from the surrounding environment, but serve also as organising platforms for physiological processes such as cell signalling. The hydrophobic core of membranes is composed of lipids and proteins influencing each other. Local membrane composition and properties ...

Biological membranes protect cells and organelles from the surrounding environment, but serve also as organising platforms for physiological processes such as cell signalling. The hydrophobic core of membranes is composed of lipids and proteins influencing each other. Local membrane composition and properties define its molecular organisation and, in this way, regulate the function of all associated molecules. Therefore, studying interactions of components, biophysical properties and overall membrane dynamics provides essential information on its function in the context of cell activities. Such knowledge can contribute to biomedical fields such as pharmacology, immunology, neurobiology and many others.
The goal of the Research Topic entitled ‘Molecular organisation of membranes: where biology meets biophysics’ is to provide a comprehensive platform for publishing articles, reviews and opinions focused on membrane organisation and the forces behind its heterogeneous and dynamic structure. We will reflect on works describing cell biology, biochemistry and biophysics of membranes, as well as in silico simulations of molecules in lipid bilayers. Studies analysing membranes composed of pure lipid mixtures will be considered for publication but authors are kindly asked to discuss their findings with respect to proteo-lipidic character of biological membranes. Current observations using super-resolution microscopy strongly support the heterogeneous organisation of cell membranes and, especially, uneven distribution of proteins in the plasma membrane of cells. Articles extending our understanding of these phenomena are especially welcome.
Finally, here are a few suggestions for potential articles: Do membrane proteins form protein islands as suggested in some studies? Are these entities influenced by surrounding lipids? If existing, how stable are protein islands and what are the forces keeping such structures together? Are there novel techniques or approaches capable to advance research towards better understanding of the organisation of cell membranes? Can annular and non-annular lipids modify distribution of proteins in the plasma membrane? Why do we have so many different transmembrane domains? Do these structures define protein localisation in addition to their impact on protein sorting between cellular membranes? How lipid-like posttranslational modifications influence distribution of proteins in membranes? How is it with topology of cell membranes? We believe that discussing these and similar questions can generate a platform for the community of researchers studying cell membranes. The aim is to intensify the contacts between people in the field and help to solve yet unresolved questions.
In parallel with this Research Topic, thematically overlapping meeting Mechanisms and functions of membrane compartmentalization will be held on 6-10 September 2015 in Muenster, Germany,
http://memcomp.uni-muenster.de/.

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