Madeline Parson, Travis Bulloch, and Tyler Argyle, Southern Utah University
Lipid bilayers have many important purposes in living cells. A lipid bilayer forms a barrier which separates the fluid inside the cell from the fluid surrounding the cell. The arrangement of components within cell membranes can be extremely important, particularly in cell communications. For example, when our immune system attacks certain pathogens, it recognizes them by specific proteins in the inner and outer regions. This can be thought of as forming a “bull’s-eye” shape. The ability to generate such patterns in bilayers might see applications in many areas of biology. Our goal is to take an initially un-patterned supported lipid bilayer (model cell membrane) and use magnetic tweezers as a delivery system to generate patterns. We hope to show pattern formation using fluorescent-labeled lipids within our bilayer. In the past, we have used streptavidin and biotinylated lipids with Oregon Green. Currently, we are pursuing a fluorescein/anti-fluorescein system that has been yielding much more promising results. We are currently using a fluorescent microscope to confirm that patterns are forming within the bilayer.