How to build a biological nanomachine
Andela Saric , University College London
The molecular machinery of life is largely created via self-organisation of individual molecules into functional larger-scaled structures. Such processes are multi-scale in nature and constantly driven far from thermodynamic equilibrium. Our group develops minimal coarse-grained computer models to help understand how the assembly of a large number of macromolecules results in a functional nanomachine, as well as how such processes can go wrong, leading to diseases.
Here I will discuss the physical mechanisms behind two key biological nanomachines that operate via protein assembly – active elastic ESCRT-III filaments that remodel and cut cell membranes and split cells in two, and bacterial mechanosensitive protein channels that convert mechanical signals into chemical. I will discuss the model development, simulation results, and the mapping of the simulation data to in vivo experiments. Beyond their biological context, our findings can guide the design of artificial structures that are able to manipulate cell membranes and perform work at the nanoscale.
Andela is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology at University College London. She obtained her PhD from Columbia University in 2013, followed by postdoctoral research at the University of Cambridge. Andela works in the area of computational biological physics, developing minimal models to study biological assembly and cell remodelling. She is a recipient of the ERC Starting Grant, Royal Society University Research Fellowship, and HFSP Cross-disciplinary Fellowship.
She has been invited to IBEC by Josep Samitier