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Research GBB Molecular Dynamics Group Research

Membrane fusion

Membrane fusion plays an important role in many cellular processes in nature, where it is frequently mediated by a protein machinery, e.g., SNARE proteins. However, the basic fusion event occurs at the level of the lipid membrane. To understand the underlying mechanism of the fusion process model systems of vesicles with proteins or with DNA have been studied. DNA is an attractive candidate as a programmable building block with self-recognition properties.

We use the Martini force field to study DNA mediated membrane fusion and to obtain a molecular level understanding on the process. We study both DNA block-copolymers as well lipid-DNA complexes that function similarly to SNARE-proteins in facilitating membrane fusion but can also be made to be selective due to the complimentary base pairing of DNA strands. Coarse-grained resolution allows us to simulate the complete process starting from interaction of DNA and lipids up to examining the steps through membrane fusion.

We collaborate in this project with the Poolman and Herrmann groups at the Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute and the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials.

Membrane fusion facilitated by DNA
Membrane fusion facilitated by DNA
Last modified:04 February 2020 1.15 p.m.