Engineering de novo membrane-mediated protein-protein communication networks

Kalypso Charalambous, Paula J Booth, Rudiger Woscholski, John M Seddon, Richard H Templer, Robert V Law, Laura M C Barter, Oscar Ces

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Mechanical properties of biological membranes are known to regulate membrane protein function. Despite this, current models of protein communication typically feature only direct protein-protein or protein-small molecule interactions. Here we show for the first time that, by harnessing nanoscale mechanical energy within biological membranes, it is possible to promote controlled communication between proteins. By coupling lipid-protein modules and matching their response to the mechanical properties of the membrane, we have shown that the action of phospholipase A(2) on acyl-based phospholipids triggers the opening of the mechanosensitive channel, MscL, by generating membrane asymmetry. Our findings confirm that the global physical properties of biological membranes can act as information pathways between proteins, a novel mechanism of membrane-mediated protein-protein communication that has important implications for (i) the underlying structure of signaling pathways, (ii) our understanding of in vivo communication networks, and (iii) the generation of building blocks for artificial protein networks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5746-9
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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