CS298-4, Seminar on Self-Assembly

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Monday December 5, 2005,  4:10pm-5:30pm, in 380 Soda Hall.

Zack Norwood presents:

"Membrane Self-Assembly Processes: Steps Toward the First Cellular Life"

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California Santa Cruz


This review addresses the question of the origin of life, with emphasis on plausible boundary structures that may have initially provided cellular compartmentation. Some form of compartmentation is a necessary prerequisite for maintaining the integrity of interdependent molecular systems that are associated with metabolism, and for permitting variations required for speciation. The fact that lipid-bilayer membranes define boundaries of all contemporary living cells suggests that protocellular compartments were likely to have required similar, self-assembled boundaries. Amphiphiles such as short-chain fatty acids, which were presumably available on the early Earth, can self-assemble into stable vesicles that encapsulate hydrophilic solutes with catalytic activity. Their suspensions in aqueous media have therefore been used to investigate nutrient uptake across simple membranes and encapsulated catalyzed reactions, both of which would be essential processes in protocellular life forms.
 © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc. THE ANATOMICAL RECORD 268:196 –207 (2002)

 Ranjana Sahai presents:

"Self-assembled Micro-Devices Driven by Muscle"

UCLA Department of Bioengineering


Current procedures for manual extraction of mature muscle tissue in micromechanical structures are time consuming and can damage the living components. To overcome these limitations, we have devised a new system for assembling muscle-powered microdevices based on judicious manipulations of materials phases and interfaces. In this system, individual cells grow and self-assemble into muscle bundles that are integrated with micromechanical structures and can be controllably released to enable free movement. Having realized such an assembly with cardiomyocytes we demonstrate two potential applications: a force transducer able to characterize in situ the mechanical properties of muscle and a self-assembled hybrid (biotic/abiotic) microdevice that moves as a consequence of collective cooperative contraction of muscle bundles. Because the fabrication of silicon microdevices is independent of the subsequent assembly of muscle cells, this system is highly versatile and may lead to the integration of cells and tissues with a variety of other microstructures.

NATURE MATERIALS:  - Published online: 16 January 2005

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