Colloquium

Cholesterol in membranes

Friday, 27 January 2017 12:00PM PST
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Colloquium
 
Jenifer Thewalt
SFU Physics
 
Cholesterol in membranes
 
Jan 27, 2017 at 12PM
 

Synopsis

Cholesterol, lauded by Nobel prize winner Konrad Bloch as the pinnacle of sterol evolution, is one of the major lipids that distinguishes our membranes from those of bacteria. Most of the cholesterol in our bodies serves a structural role, strengthening and leak-proofing the outermost membranes of our cells. Using biophysical techniques - with a heavy emphasis on solid state deuterium NMR spectroscopy - we have explored the physical attributes of a wide range of cholesterol-containing membranes. To give you a flavour of cholesterol's versatility, three of these will be introduced. 1) Cholesterol enables the formation of the liquid ordered phase, thought to be central to the function of cell membranes. 2) In an extreme form of leak-proofing, cholesterol is a major constituent of the barrier lipids in the outer layer of the skin. 3) Certain biopharmaceuticals must be shepherded to their site of action by cholesterol-containing lipid nanoparticles.