A soft matter perspective on the assembly of proteins and tissues
Jennifer McManus (Maynooth University)
The overall physical properties of soft materials and tissues emerge in a complex manner from the properties of the component materials across multiple length scales ranging from nanometres to millimetres. Controlling the self-assembly of biological molecules to form defined or functional structures with a high degree of predictability is a central aim for soft matter science and biological physics. While this is possible for a variety of colloidal and nanoscale materials, it has been more difficult to achieve for proteins and other biological materials, including replacement tissues. In large part this is because the assembly process is complex. Understanding this complexity is essential to revealing the mechanisms underlying important processes such as protein crystallization, the pathogenesis of protein condensation diseases, the aggregation of proteins during industrial manufacture and the formation of biological materials and tissues. The talk will have two parts. First, using phase diagrams for human gamma D-crystallin (a protein found in the human eye lens), I will show that both mutagenesis and chemical modification of the protein surface can have a dramatic impact on anisotropic protein-protein interactions and hence the assembly behaviour of the protein. In the second part of the talk, I will present work that we have done using cavitation rheology (CR) to characterise the mechanical properties of strong materials made from proteins and also cells within cell spheroids (a tumour model).
Please contact M.Gradhand@bristol.ac.uk for further information.