Biophysics of Biomembranes

The Nanostructures of Biomembranes Group has traditionally worked with spectroscopic techniques, particularly spectrofluorimetry, NMR, DSC, Langmuir monolayers and Langmuir Blodgett films and more recently, with the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM).
What characterizes the group is the fact that we combine the application of these techniques with molecular biology methods for which we are self-sufficient. Specifically, we obtain the proteins under investigation, lactose permease, NorA or KcsA, from Escherichia coli cultures. These proteins are models of efflux pump proteins related with the drug resistance in bacteria. We can extract the proteins from the cell membrane and after purification, we finally reconstitute them into membrane models of desired compositions. Spectrofluorometric studies of surface potential or FRET tell us about the interactions between proteins and the lipids that surround it. The characterization of the membrane models with the AFM allows the visualization and interaction (Force Spectroscopy) with an individual molecule of protein giving us the idea of the necessary force to take it out of the membrane. This information is important to understand how proteins are inserted in cell membranes and how they perform their function. Altering the membrane lipid composition modifies these force profiles suggesting a possible approach to inhibit the functionality of the protein when inserted in the membrane.


Dr. Jordi Borrell Hernandez (Catedràtic) [Scopus] [Scopus] [ORCID]

Dra. María Teresa Montero Barrientos (Titular) [Scopus] [ORCID]

Dr. Òscar Domènech Cabrera (Agregat) [Scopus] [ORCID]

Dra. Martha Leticia Vázquez González (Associada) [Scopus]

Dr. Adrià Botet Carreras (Associat) [Scopus] [ORCID]

Relevant projects

Nanobioenginyeria i Nanobioelectrònica, SIC-BIO.SGRC- Ajuts de Suport als Grups de Recerca de Catalunya (SGR) 2017SGR1079. 2018-2021 IP. Josep Samitier Martí

Microscopio de barrido de fuerzas eléctricas para medidas electrofisiológicas a la nanoescala. IP. Gabriel Gomila. TEC2016-79156-P. Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (MCOC), 2016-2019

Breaking the Borders of Antimicrobial Resistance. Searching New Antimicrobial Compounds against Multi-Drug Resistant Bacteria: A Study of Policationic AMPS and Lipid Nanoparticles. Fundació La Marató (TV3) (FMTV). 2018-2021. IP. Miquel Viñas Ciordia

Singular cientific equipment

Multimode IV Atomic Force Microscope from Bruker controlled by Nanoscope V electronics equipped with a 15 μm scanner.

Two KSV Nima Langmuir troughs equipped with surface pressure balance, surface potential and Brewster Angle Microscope (BAM).

SLM Aminco 8100 Spectrofluorometer equipped with Xenon Lamp and thermostatted cuvette holder.

Internationals collaborations

Ronald H. Kaback. Department of Physiology. University of California, Los Angeles, USA. Physicochemical studies of Lactose permease (Lac Y) protein in model membranes.

Pierre Emmanuel Milhiet. Structural Biochemistry Centre CNRS UMR 5048 – UM – INSERM U 1054, Montpellier, France. Physicochemical studies of Macromolecules – model membrane interactions by AFM.

Marie-Paule Mingeot Leclercq. Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, Catholic University of Louvain, Brussels, Belgium. Macromolecules – model membrane interactions.

Manuel Prieto. Molecular Physical Chemistry Centre, Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal. FRET fluorescence studies between membrane proteins and lipids in the annular region.