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Membrane Biophysics Laboratory

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Membrane Biophysics Laboratory


About the MBL

The Membrane Biophysics Laboratory (MBL) examines the structure, dynamics, organization fluidity and polarity properties of lipid bilayers. The MBL uses mainly optical spectroscopy techniques (UV/vis absorption, steady-state and time-resolved fluorescence, fluorescence anisotropy) as well as computer simulation methods (semi-empirical calculations, Monte-Carlo simulations) and molecular dynamics (in collaboration with the Centro de Química de Coimbra). The main research interests in the moment are the measurement of dielectric constants of model membranes of varied lipidic composition, and the aqueous behavior and the effects of antitumoral amphiphiles in lipid bilayers.


Publications (2013-2018)

Luís M. S. Loura, António M. T. Martins do Canto, Jorge Martins (2013) “Sensing hydration and behavior of pyrene in POPC and POPC/cholesterol bilayers: A molecular dynamics study” Biochim. Biophys. Acta – Biomembranes 1828:1094-1101.

Fouzi Mouffouk, Teresa Simão, Daniel Dornelles, André D. Lopes, Pablo Sau, Jorge Martins, Khalid M. Abu-Salah, Salman A. Alrokayan, Ana M. Rosa da Costa and Nuno R. dos Santos (2015) “Self-assembled polymeric nanoparticles as new smart contrast agents for breast cancer early detection using magnetic resonance imaging” Int. J. Nanomed. 10:1-14.

António M. T. Martins do Canto, Patrícia D. Santos, Jorge Martins and Luís M. S. Loura (2015) “Behavior of pyrene as a polarity probe in palmitoylsphingomyelin and palmitoylsphingomyelin/cholesterol bilayers: a molecular dynamics simulation study” Colloids Surf. A: Physicochem. Eng. Aspects 480:296-306.

Ghazal Ebadzad, Clara Medeira, Isabel Maia, Jorge Martins and Alfredo Cravador (2015) “Induction of defence responses by cinnamomins against Phytophthora cinnamomi in Quercus suber and Quercus ilex subs. Rotundifolia” Eur. J. Plant Pathol. 143:705-723.


Project Grants

Project Leader

PTDC/QUI-BIQ/112943/2009: “On characterizing polarity within phospholipid/cholesterol lipid bilayers and its effects in membrane enzymology”. Principal Investigator: J. Martins; Researchers: E. Melo, L.M.S. Loura, M.L.S. Cristiano, M.A. Alves; 44 month (February 2011 – October 2014); 130000 €.

POCTI/BCI/46174/2002: “Kinetic Modeling of Cellular Chemoreception: An Experimental Study”. Principal Investigator: J. Martins; Researchers: E. Melo, W. Vaz; 36 month (January 2004 – December 2007); 55000 €


Representative Images


Probability density functions P(θ) of the angles between the long axis (A), the short axis (B), and the normal to the pyrene plane (defined as the vector product of the short and long axes; C), relative to the bilayer normal. Blue, red and green lines refer to the 0 mol%, 20 mol% and 40 mol% cholesterol systems, respectively.

Final snapshots of the 4-pyrene simulations for 0 (A) and 20 (B) mol% cholesterol systems. POPC CHn groups (n = 0–3), O atoms, N atoms, and P atoms are shown in red, cyan, blue and black, respectively. Water and cholesterol molecules are shown in cyan and bright green, respectively. Pyrene molecules are depicted in licorice drawing style. Scale bar length represents 1 nm in both panels.