Polymer science and biology: structure and dynamics at multiple scales

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Original Entry by Holly McIlwee, AP225 Fall 09


Polymer science and biology: structure and dynamics at multiple scales.

L. Mahadevan

Faraday Discussions 10th June 2008


Studying biological systems at a molecular and cellular level can help probe two types of questions: What are the underlying processes affecting life on a larger scale?, and How can we translate what is going on at the cellular level in biological systems to polymer systems? Filamentous aggregates and their affinity to form ordered bundles or disordered aggregates are studied at a fundamental level in order to form elementary theories about their effect on macromolecular dynamics in living systems. Simple cell dynamics are also examined to probe questions relating to the microstructure of the cytoplasm, cell attachment to a substrate or other species, and the cell's ability to spread disease. The intent is to learn more about a highly complex system by looking simply at it, and to start to think about conclusions that can be drawn and ultimately how this can be related to polymeric systems...........

Soft Matter

The cell is an example of a structured fluid, composed of a liquid state: water, ions, soluble proteins, and a solid state: structural proteins, the cytoskeleton, and microtubules, etc. The most interesting feature of this structured fluid system is the porous membrane surrounding it. This membrane allows many functions to occur in the cell. The author chose to examine three particularly interesting functions which can be correlated to polymeric systems as well: diffusion across the membrane as a result of a load applied to the system, cell attachment to a substrate and cellular flow..............