Exploring the Lipid World through Membrane Mimetic Chemistry

Seminar series
Organic Colloquium
Thu, Feb 6 4:00pm
CS 76
Speaker Neal Devaraj
University of California, San Diego
Departments of Chemistry & Biochemistry and Bioengineering

Abstract: Understanding the transition between non-living and living matter represents one of the most important and most difficult problems in chemical biology. We are approaching this challenge through pursuing a broad program in cell-membrane mimetic chemistry. Cells represent the minimal unit of life, and all cells possess lipid membranes. Using biomimetic chemistry, we are trying to mimic the dynamic nature of living cell membranes. Topics of interest include the non-enzymatic synthesis and growth and lipid membranes and the use of novel lipid structures as synthetic organelles. We are also exploring the use of lipid based chemistry to tackle biochemical questions relevant to modern cell membranes. We are using chemistry to remodel the lipid and protein profile of membrane compartments in living cells. A recent example is the development of reactive amphiphilic molecules for triggering the removal of lipid post-translational modifications from membrane bound proteins. Ultimately, we are aiming to create lipid based materials that closely mimic the active nature of modern cellular membranes.