Biological membranes: interpreting experiments using molecular simulations
Biological membranes compartmentalize cells and regulate molecular transport and the activity of membrane proteins. Many physiological processes depend on membrane physical properties like curvature, elasticity, diffusion, and thickness. Open questions remain in the area of membrane remodeling, molecular transport, the role of membrane lateral heterogeneity, and many others. The role of different lipid and protein species in the biological context is often far from clear. Experiments on model systems and molecular simulations can make an important contribution to understanding a variety of phenomena involving biological membranes.
From the biology standpoint, cell membranes are amazingly complex: they contain a huge variety of lipids and proteins, all contributing to biological functions. To understand the functioning of biological membranes in vivo is a great challenge, hence simplified model systems are often used to gain insight into specific structures and processes. Even in the case of model systems, time and length scales of relevant motions are often out of reach for atomistic simulations, and further simplification is required. Another great challenge is to establish a bridge between simulated systems and the ones used in experiments, to allow interpretation of experiments via simulations.
This symposium aims at exploring how simulations and experiments on model systems can be used to understand the structure, dynamics, and functioning of real biological membranes. The symposium aims at tackling this challenge by favoring a fruitful dialogue between computational and experimental scientists.