Event Details

Mechanisms governing shape changes in biological membranes

  • 2017-09-13
  • Prof. P.B. Sunil Kumar , IIT Palakkad and IITM.

A characteristic feature of eukaryotic cells is the variety of membrane bound organelles, distinguished by their unique morphology and chemical composition. Despite the differences in membrane composition across organelles, ramified, tubular or sheet-like shapes are generic large scale morphologies observed in internal membranes, which suggest involvement of common underlying principles. While there is detailed knowledge of the molecular processes involved in membrane remodelling at short scales, our understanding of the underlying physical principles governing large scale morphogenesis is still rudimentary.
One important feature of organelles, especially those in the trafficking pathways, is that they are subject to and driven by a continuous flux of membrane bound materials, on time scales comparable to membrane relaxation times. The large scale morphology of the membrane bound compartments could be influenced by these active out-of-equilibrium processes of fission and fusion of material. The other common aspect is that organelles are subject to the action of curvature sensing and curvature generating proteins which modulate local membrane shape. Such proteins now include a variety of bar-domain proteins, coat-proteins and GTPases and are found on most membrane bound organelles and the plasma membrane. In this talk, we will discuss the physical changes that the above two processes induce on the membrane.

Prof. P. B. Sunil Kumar obtained his M. Sc. (1987) from the University of Calicut in India and earned his Ph. D. degree from the Raman Research Institute, India in 1994. After postdoctoral research at The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, India, and the Max-Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces, Germany, he joined the faculty of the Physics Department of Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India, in 1999 where he is now a professor. His current research interests are in soft condensed matter and biological physics such as liquid crystals, fluid membranes, polymers and physics of active matter. ​