Computer modelling of lipid rafts in biological membranes
Andrea Catte and Vasily Oganesyan, University of East Anglia
Researchers from the Norwich Research Park, in collaboration with Durham University, are performing large scale molecular dynamics simulations of model lipid membranes. Lipid membranes act as a barrier around cells in most living organisms, preventing ions, proteins and other molecules from diffusing out. The image shows an atom representation of a phospholipid bilayer composed of dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (orange and red), dioleoylphosphatidylcholine (cyan and skyblue) and cholesterol (magenta and yellow) molecules. At certain compositions phospholipid and cholesterol molecules form liquid ordered (Lo) and liquid disordered (Ld) domains that coexist with each other. Computer models help to explore the nature of lipid rafts that play a pivotal role in the functioning of biological membranes.