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PhD ceremony Mr. D.H. de Jong: A molecular view on the organizational complexity of proteins in membranes

When:Fr 24-05-2013 at 14:30

PhD ceremony: Mr. D.H. de Jong, 14.30 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Dissertation: A molecular view on the organizational complexity of proteins in membranes

Promotor(s): prof. S.J. Marrink

Faculty: Mathematics and Natural Sciences

All living beings consist of cells and every cell is surrounded by a cell membrane. Untill recently it was thought that this cell membrane was nothing more than a thin layer separating the inside of the cell of from everything outside, but more and more it is discovered that this layer, that mainly consists of lipids, cholesterol and proteins, has many more roles.

In my research I have used computer simulations to investigate the interactions between lipids and proteins in the membrane. The small sizes of cel membranes and the very short timescales at which processes have place, make scientific questions hard to answer using experimental techniques. With the use of computer models, such as the “Martini” model developed in Groningen, we can observe these processes at near atomistic resolution.

Het research focussed on two aspects. First, the Martini model was tested and further optimized, allowing for the possibility of even more reliable simulations. The second aspect concerns the simulation of small membrane proteins in a (lipid) membrane using the Martini model. These simulations have increased our understanding of how proteins travel between different domains inside the membrane and the important role that a specific lipid has in this: the GM1 ganglioside lipid.