A team at the UW reports that living yeast cells can actively regulate a process called phase separation in one of their membranes. During phase separation, the membrane forms distinct zones that segregate lipids and proteins. The new findings show for the first time that, in response to environmental conditions, yeast cells precisely regulate the temperature at which their membrane undergoes phase separation. The researchers believe that phase separation is likely a “switch” mechanism that these cells use to govern the types of work that membranes do and the signals they send.
Lead author on the paper is Chantelle LeveilIe, a UW doctoral candidate in chemistry. Co-authors are Dr. Sarah Keller, UW professor of chemistry; Dr. Alexey Merz, UW professor of biochemistry; and Dr. Caitlin Cornell, an alum of the UW doctoral program in chemistry who is now a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley.
Read more about this new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the story by UW News.