Thewalt Lab

We study the organization and behavior of lipid molecules in membranes using powerful physical techniques like deuterium nuclear magnetic resonance and x-ray scattering.

Cell membranes are complex assemblies of lipids and proteins held together by lipids' natural tendency to form bilayer structures. Nearly all biological membranes exist in a liquid crystalline 'bilayer' physical state, where membrane components can diffuse within their monolayer but cannot spontaneously hop to the other side of the membrane.

Since lipids are amphiphilic and water - the biological solvent - is polar, lipids tend to spontaneously self assemble into supramolecular aggregates. The hydrophilic lipid heads like to position themselves in such a way that they are hydrated by the water while keeping the hydrophobic ends tucked away.

The knowledge gained from the work we do aids cell biologists investigating phenomena related to membrane domains, e.g. programmed cell death, protein localization/signaling, neuronal maturation and bacterial/viral infection.

For more details, visit our research lab website.



Lab Room:

SSB 6166/6128 

Lab Phone:

(778) 782-5489
(778) 782-4955

Selected Publications

  • Keyvanloo A, Shaghaghi M, Zuckermann MJ, and Thewalt JL. The Phase Behavior and Organization of Sphingomyelin/Cholesterol Membranes: A Deuterium NMR Study.     Biophys J. 2018 May 27. 114(6): 1344-1356.
  • Thewalt JL. Essential Insights into Lipid Membrane Organization from Essential Fatty Acids. Biophys J. 2018 Jan 23. 114(2): 254-255.
  • Leung, S.S.W., Brewer, J., Bagatolli, L. and Thewalt, J.L. (2019) "Measuring molecular order for lipid membrane phase studies: Linear relationship between Laurdan generalized polarization and deuterium NMR order parameter".Biochim. Biophys. Acta - Biomembranes 1861:183053.
  • Ghovanloo, M. R., Choudhoury, K., Bandaru, T.S., Fouda, M.A., Rayani, K., Rusinova, R., Phaterpekar, T., Nelkenbrecher, K., Watkins, A.R., Poburko, D., Thewalt, J., Andersen, O.S., Delemotte, L., Goodchild, S.J., Ruben, P.C. Cannabidiol inhibits the skeletal muscle Nav1.4 by blocking its pore and by altering membrane elasticity. J Gen Physiol (2021) 153 (5): e202012701.

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