Biomembrane Structure and Material Properties Studied With Neutron Scattering


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Cell membranes and their associated structures are dynamical supramolecular structures where different physiological processes take place. Detailed knowledge of their static and dynamic structures is therefore needed, to better understand membrane biology. The structure–function relationship is a basic tenet in biology and has been pursued using a range of different experimental approaches. In this review, we will discuss one approach, namely the use of neutron scattering techniques as applied, primarily, to model membrane systems composed of lipid bilayers. An advantage of neutron scattering, compared to other scattering techniques, is the differential sensitivity of neutrons to isotopes of hydrogen and, as a result, the relative ease of altering sample contrast by substituting protium for deuterium. This property makes neutrons an ideal probe for the study of hydrogen-rich materials, such as biomembranes. In this review article, we describe isotopic labeling studies of model and viable membranes, and discuss novel applications of neutron contrast variation in order to gain unique insights into the structure, dynamics, and molecular interactions of biological membranes. We specifically focus on how small-angle neutron scattering data is modeled using different contrast data and molecular dynamics simulations. We also briefly discuss neutron reflectometry and present a few recent advances that have taken place in neutron spin echo spectroscopy studies and the unique membrane mechanical data that can be derived from them, primarily due to new models used to fit the data.



Physical Sciences, Chemistry, Multidisciplinary, Chemistry, neutron scattering, membrane biophysical properties, lipid domains, rafts, membrane dynamics, MD simulation, SMALL-ANGLE NEUTRON, BILAYER STRUCTURE DETERMINATION, LARGE UNILAMELLAR VESICLES, PHOSPHOLIPID FLIP-FLOP, X-RAY, LIPID-MEMBRANES, ALPHA-SYNUCLEIN, ASYMMETRIC DISTRIBUTION, ANTIMICROBIAL PEPTIDE, BIOLOGICAL-MEMBRANES