A theoretical and experimental study of cell membrane electrostatics and transport
PANAGIOTOPOULOU, V.C. (2012) A theoretical and experimental study of cell membrane electrostatics and transport. MPhil thesis, University of Nottingham.
In cancer, neoplastic cells can develop resistance to a variety of drugs, even to those drugs that cells have never come across. This makes the cancer therapy even more demanding and challenging, as clinicians have to take into consideration that the heavy medication they administer to the patients can be ine↵ective. This phe- nomenon acts as a motivation to explore the mechanisms behind molecular transport across the cell membrane. Using cancer cells and fluorescent dyes, we can detect experimentally whether a dye molecule can enter the cell. The most important aim of this research work is to detect whether there is a link between physical pa- rameters of the cell, like the membrane charge density and the ionic accumulation, and the molecule’s transport. We then build a mathematical model to explain and predict what happens during the experimental procedure. Our experiments show that the dye’s crossing is influenced by alteration of the membrane potential. In de- tails, when the di↵erence in potential across the membrane increases, then more dye molecules cross the membrane. Using our mathematical approach, we approximate the dye crossing the cell membrane via competition between di↵usion and electro- static forces. In that way, we are able to predict a molecule’s movement from the outside to the inside of the cell when the potential, the distribution of ions and the electrostatic properties of the membrane are known. Furthermore, it is possible to predict the transport time of the molecule as well as its distribution in the vicinity of the membrane area.
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