The Department of Chemistry and Physics continues its Seminar series. Details for this week’s talk are given below.
John Katsaras, Ph.D.
Neutron Scattering Division and Shull Wollan Center
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge, TN
Biological Membranes – Overview and Recent Developments as Platforms for Biological Memory
Although knowledge of the plasma membrane (PM) dates as far back as the 18th century, evidence for the lipid bilayer as being its underlying structure did not come to light until 1925. Since then, various models of the PM have been put forth, the most noteworthy being the “fluid mosaic” model proposed by Singer and Nicolson in 1972, where proteins were embedded in a two-dimensional fluid lipid bilayer. The next most significant advance was the controversial concept of lipid rafts or functional lipid domains, dynamic assemblies of proteins and lipids that can form platforms which control various biological functions (e.g., neurotransmission).
In today’s seminar I will give a brief overview of the plasma membrane and the neutron scattering research that we have carried out looking at nanoscopic lipid domains in both model membranes and those of fully functional bacteria. I will then discuss our recent work, where we use lipid bilayers to understand the molecular basis of biological memory. This research offers the possibility that neuronal membranes can be therapeutic targets for brain diseases that do not respond to the current protein-targeted drugs and as platforms for artificial neural network developments and memcomputing.