Amphiphilic Morphology: lipids, proteins, and entropy

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Keith Promislow
Michigan State University
Mon, 03/05/2018 - 4:00pm
Qing Nie

The self organization of phospholipids into membranes is fundamental to the origin of life, allowing for protection of internal structure while necessitating machinery to open pores. Evolutionary pressure has designed a myriad of controls in the guise of surface proteins that adjust the entropy of the lipid-solvent interactions, raising and lower energy barriers to membrane fusion, budding, endocytosis, and inducing curvature vectors that encode for fenestration and helical structures. All of these actors orchestrate the delicate dynamics of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and associated Golgi apparatus, biology's original coherent structures.

We embed the ER and its dynamics within an energy minimization problem whose coherent dynamics play out on a huge center-stable stage.  We given an overview of the bifurcation structure, including a mechanism for the onset of morphological complexity observed in synthetic amphiphilic polymers, and describe the template ER problem: the evolution and budding of lipid droplets.