Dr. Michael Morrow
Phone: (709) 864 4361
Email: mmorrow @ mun . ca
Research - properties and organization of model biological membranes at ambient and high pressure
Wideline deuterium nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is used to characterize the organization and motions of molecules in model membranes and bilayers containing deuterium-labeled components. In collaboration with colleagues from life sciences, we study howi protein-lipid interactions drive bilayer structural transformations that give rise to a surfactant layer at the lung air-water interface. This is relevant to the treatment of respiratory disease but also suggests strategies for control of bilayer organization and component distribution for material applications. We also use wideline NMR to study motions and self-association of transmembrane polypeptides. This contributes to understanding of material properties like self-assembly and of biological functions like transmembrane signaling. By varying pressure, we can separate the effects of temperature and molecular packing on bilayer properties. This allows us to study how observable bilayer properties like phase behaviour, fluidity, and bilayer thickness reflect collective behaviour of the bilayer components. With pressure, we can also observe phases and motions that are not accessible at ambient pressure and gain insight into how marine organisms accommodate changes in hydrostatic pressure.