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Title:Lipids to the center stage of life
Author(s):Porras-Gomez, Marilyn
Subject(s):Materials Science and Engineering
Abstract:Lipids, fundamental molecules of nature, are embedded across the cell membrane giving shape to the barrier that enables function and creates individuality in organisms. Prior understanding of the membrane had proteins as the main actors in the story of how cells work, performing all sorts of functions while lipids remained in the backstage only as scaffold with few surprises. Yet, research show that lipids increasingly steal the spotlight with their rich repertoire of geometries beyond usual bilayers. Lipids can self-assemble into bicontinuous cubic phases, lattice networks with two sets of intertwining but unconnected water channels capable of maximizing the internal space available to store other molecules. We have therefore recreated for the first time a 3D bicontinous cubic phase stable in room conditions and imaged it. This 3D image, in which a concentric pattern dominates the scene, was obtained via atomic force microscopy, a technique capable of indirectly visualizing objects in and below the micrometer scale (the image captures a section 30 microns long). Bicontinous cubic phases may hold not only more secrets about the biology of the cell but promises for medicine of the future thanks to its outstanding aptitude for drug delivery applications.
Issue Date:2020
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Marilyn Porras-Gomez
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-04-15

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