Course Coordinator: 
Akihiro Kusumi
Biophysics of Cellular Membranes

Description: Students will learn several basic concepts of biophysics including thermal conformational fluctuation and thermal diffusion, and how cells might take advantage of these physical processes to enable their functions. As a biological paradigm, the cellular membrane system (and their functions), with a special attention paid to signal transduction in the plasma membrane, will be extensively covered. This is because the membranes are critically important for a variety of cellular processes, in the fields of cancer biology, immunology, neuroscience etc., and also because the membrane system provides us with an interesting and useful biological paradigm to learn how the life processes are made possible by thermal-physical processes. As a way of directly “seeing” the thermal, stochastic processes exhibited by receptors and downstream signaling molecules undergoing signaling in live cells, the methods of single-molecule imaging-tracking and manipulation will be discussed quite extensively. Through this course, students will better understand the interdisciplinary field of biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematical science.

Aims: This lecture series introduces the basic concepts and current research in cellular biophysics of biological membrane systems.
Course Content: 

1. Introduction to Biophysics

2. Biological Membrane Structure and Molecular Dynamics

3. Signaling in the Plasma Membrane I

4. Single-molecule Imaging and Manipulation of Plasma Membrane Molecules

5. Interaction between the Plasma Membrane and the Cytoskeleton

6. Force Involved in Organizing Membrane Molecules

7. Domain Structures of the Plasma Membrane

8. Signaling in the Plasma Membrane Enabled by Its Meso-Scale Domain Organization

9. 3D-Organization of the Plasma Membrane: Endocytosis and Exocytosis

10. Membrane Deformation

11. Interaction between the Cytoplasmic Membranes and the Cytoskeleton

12. Tubulovesicular Network in Cells

13. Signaling in the Plasma Membrane II

14. Biological Meso-scale Mechanisms

Course Type: 
Report 50%; Final exam 50%
Text Book: 
Mary Luckey, Membrane Structural Biology 2nd Ed. Cambridge University Press
Prior Knowledge: 

Biology, chemistry, or physics at undergraduate levels