Research is focused on biological membranes as meeting place of lipids, proteins and membrane active drugs on the one hand, and on the other hand as complex multifunctional interfaces for diverse (patho)physiological processes. Of particular interest are, on the one hand the functional role of lipid distribution in diverse membranes and, on the other hand the coupling of collective lipid properties to protein function. The overall aim is to delineate the physics of simplified but functional models to biomembrane function to aid the develop membrane active drugs.
Current projects address the physical properties of lipid-only models for membrane rafts, and asymmetric membranes, the elastic response of membranes to antimicrobial peptides, or the modulatory role of lipids and lipophilic drugs in cellular signaling.
To address these issues we are using a broad selection of experimental techniques, such as small angle x-ray (neutron) scattering, osmotic stress experiments, calorimetry, or fluorescence microscopy to name but a few. Complementary experimental and theoretical aspects are studied in collaboration with other groups.
Over the years, we have contributed to the following issues (see also publications):
- protein partitioning into liquid-ordered/liquid-diordered
- structure and elasticity of lipid domains
- restructuring of membranes by ceramide and effects on ion-channels
- membrane modulation by anesthetics and coupling to ion-channel activity
- effects of cholesterol, sitosterol and stigmasterol on lipid bilayers
- elastic response of membranes to antimicrobial peptides
- effects of monovalent and divalent ions on membrane structure and elasticity
- unbinding of lipid bilayers
- structure and elasticity of membranes in the vicinity of the main phase transition
- global x-ray data analysis of free floating lipid vesicles