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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/H007458/1
Title: The impact of spectrin-lipid interactions on membrane biophysics
Principal Investigator: Petrov, Dr PG
Other Investigators:
Winlove, Professor CP Moger, Professor J
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Physics
Organisation: University of Exeter
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 17 June 2010 Ends: 30 September 2013 Value (£): 454,595
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Cells Complex fluids & soft solids
Surfaces & Interfaces
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
02 Oct 2009 Physical Sciences Panel- Physics Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The membrane of the cell has a remarkable structure that ensures the optimal cell shape and elastic properties during its lifetime. The shape and elasticity of the cell are of crucial importance to its biological functions, and many diseases have been related to abnormalities in membrane function (both as a cause or a result of the disease). Therefore it is of primary importance to understand the factors controlling the mechanical properties and functions of cell membranes. The cell membrane consists of a double layer of different types of lipids, which are underlined by a regular mesh-like protein network attached to the lipid membrane via special protein junctions. The underlying protein network is built primarily of the protein spectrin which is able to form long filaments. However, little is known about the interactions between spectrin and the lipids forming the membrane. In this project, we set out to identify the primary lipid binding to spectrin, and how this interaction affects the elastic properties of the lipid membrane. As the cell membrane consists of several hundred different lipid types, we will investigate how the interactions between spectrin the the lipids could change the lipid distribution along the membrane, and whether spectrin is able to assemble small patches of lipids enriched in a particular lipid species. Finally, we will investigate how the membrane electrical properties and permeability to solutes are affected by the attachment of spectrin molecules. Our research will help understanding the cell membrane structure and functions in detail and show possible ways in which the protein membrane skeleton is able to change the behaviour of the membrane. This work may also lead to the discovery of a new type of artificial membranes, whose mechanical properties may be varied by incorporating different proteins. In the longer term, it will clarify some membrane abnormalities associated with serious and life-threatening diseases.
Key Findings
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.ex.ac.uk