Bending the law: 10th anniversary of Nature Chemical Biology celebrated by Nano-Science Center researcher
This autumn, the journal Nature Chemical Biology celebrates its 10th anniversary. Professor Dimitrios Stamou, head of the Bio-Nanotechnology Laboratory, part of the Nano-Science Center, has been invited to write a commentary on this occasion. “I has been a great honour to write the commentary titled “Membrane curvature bends the laws of physics and chemistry” explaining why both a chemical and a physical approach is necessary to describe biological systems” says Dimitrios Stamou.
Professor Dimitrios Stamou is co-author of the commentary. He is head of the Bio-Nanotechnology Laboratory, part of the Nano-Science Center.
Abstract: The membranes of living cells vary both in their lipid and protein compositions and in their physical shape. Whereas the classical paradigm focuses on chemical composition, dynamic modulation of membrane physical shape is emerging as a complementary and synergistic modus operandi for regulating a plethora of cellular membrane biology processes including protein sorting, trafficking and signaling. A 'chemical biology of cellular membranes' must capture the way that mesoscale perturbations tune the biochemical properties of constituent lipid and protein molecules and vice versa. Such an integrated physicochemical view, spanning multiple levels of organization, is currently emerging from theory, simulations and experiments with simplified few-component systems. The great challenge is to extend such hierarchical mechanistic understandings to the labyrinthine environment of living cells that comprises complex geometrical membrane shapes (positive, negative, spherical or tubular curvature, saddle points, etc.) with concomitant variations in membrane composition and chemistry. This will necessitate the development of novel experimental methods and strategies able to correlate quantitatively molecular function with membrane structure, shape and composition on subcellular mesoscopic length scales (~10 nm–100 nm).