An article by Yale scientists on the formation of cell membranes has been named one of the top scientific papers of 2008 by the journal Nature.
The paper, published in Cell in March 2008, explored how cells shape their membranes into tubes, spheres and other curved structures that they need in order to move, communicate and reproduce. Scientists including Vinzenz M. Unger, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry, M.D./Ph.D. student Adam Frost and Pietro De Camilli, M.D., the Eugene Higgins Professor of Cell Biology and Neurobiology, established how banana-shaped proteins called F-BAR domains form curved scaffolds that allow cell membranes to assume those forms.
Using a combination of cryoelectron microscopy and cell biology experiments, the team found that F-BARs accumulate side by side on flat membranes until attractive forces cause them to turn onto their tips en masse and pull the now-curved membrane into shape.