TCBG Seminar

What Drives the Self-organization of Photosynthetic Membranes?

Professor Helmut Kirchhoff
Institute of Biological Chemistry
Washington State University
Pullman, WA

Monday, March 29, 2010
3:00 pm (CT)
3269 Beckman Institute


Biomembranes are complex structured multi-component systems and have the remarkable potential for self-organization. This implies that the capability for self-organization must be determined by physicochemical and structural properties of the membrane constituents. Good models exist how lipids self-organize, however the knowledge about the factors, which determine the membrane protein arrangement, are not understood. Furthermore the organization of proteins in membranes is not static but highly flexible and controlled by metabolic and environmental factors. It seems that the level of protein organization plays an important role for the functionality, adaptation, repair and biogenesis of biomembranes. We investigate membrane self-organization on photosynthetic thylakoid membranes of land plants. This membrane is one of the best-characterized biomembranes and therefore an adequate model system. For example high-resolution structures of all membrane constituents (lipids and proteins) are available. Furthermore electronmicroscopic and atomic force microscopic techniques are established for analyzing the protein organization in the membrane. Finally a set of biochemical and spectroscopic techniques exist allowing an in-depth characterization of membrane functionality. The talk will present a hypothesis of protein self-organization in thylakoid membranes, which links the lipid composition with the protein arrangement and explains the flexibility of this organization.

2:30 pm: Coffee hour Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group area, 3rd Floor Beckman

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