Membrane Dynamics of the Cell Surface


The course focuses on the biochemistry and cell biology processes that shape and remodel the plasmamembrane of cells. It begins with a review of the current models of the biophysical properties of membranes, the association of proteins with the lipid bilayer and the dynamics of membrane lipid composition as it relates to the formation of membrane curvature and the regulated binding of peripheral membrane proteins. We cover the cytoskeleton and its components including actin, tubulin, intermediate filaments and septins and link the regulation of assembly and movement of these to dynamic membrane processes. We examine the molecular basis of cell adhesion through adherens junctions, tight junctions, desmosomes, gap junctions, and focal adhesions and how these adhesions regulate cytoskeleton dynamics. We also cover integrins and their interactions with components of the extracellular matrix. We will look at the structure and function of dynamic cellular extensions including cilia, cytonemes and tunneling nanotubes, and engulfment process such as phagocytosis and macropincytosis. Finally we examine how the membrane is remodeled during cytokinesis, establishment of cell polarity, metastasis and neuritogenesis.

Part of the course and its evaluation involves the analysis and discussion of current papers relevant to the course material.

Course Next Offered

Not offered for 2018 - 2019

Enrollment Limit

Yes — 45

Method of Student Evaluation

In-class midterm: 30%
Final exam: 30%
Round table paper discussions/written analysis: 40% (4 x 10).

Recommended Reading

Coravos, J. S., Mason, F. M., & Martin, A. C. (2017). Actomyosin Pulsing in Tissue Integrity Maintenance during Morphogenesis. Trends in Cell Biology, 27(4), 276–283.

Grikscheit, K., & Grosse, R. (2016). Formins at the Junction. Trends in Biochemical Sciences, 41(2), 148–159.

Lechtreck, K. F. (2015). IFT-Cargo Interactions and Protein Transport in Cilia. Trends in Biochemical Sciences, 40(12), 765–778.

Malik, R., Lelkes, P. I., & Cukierman, E. (2015). Biomechanical and biochemical remodeling of stromal extracellular matrix in cancer. Trends in Biotechnology, 33(4), 230–236.

Cool Video


John R. Glover

John R. Glover

Rm 1616 MaRS West Tower


Last Updated 24 August 2018