The main goal of our group is to advance the state-of-the art of membrane lipid domains, providing means for improved assessment of their involvement in drug mechanisms of action, pointing directions to develop new preventive and therapeutic strategies.

 

 Biological membranes are generally believed to exist in a fluid regime, where a liquid disordered (ld) phase with low lipid packing and fast lateral diffusion of molecules coexists with a liquid ordered (lo) one displaying higher lipid packing and slightly slower lateral diffusion.

In recent years, however, our studies have challenged the dogma that another lipid phase, the gel or solid ordered phase, is not physiologically relevant, due to the very slow lateral diffusion of its components. We have proved that gel domains are present in the plasma membrane of growing yeast cells through the use of fluorescent probes that exhibit different fluorescence parameters in each lipid phase. This finding is now supported by independent studies in other laboratories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The relevance that ordered domains may play in the organization and function of biomembranes, and their implication in drug modes of action, and antidrug mechanisms of resistance, both in infectious agents and in cancer cells, are the core of our research.

 

A combination of protein ion channels embedded in cell membranes controls ion concentrations in the different sub-cellular compartments. Dysfunctions in these channels are currently linked to certain pathologies, such as cystic fibrosis, as well as learning and memory disabilities, such as in Alzheimer's disease. In our group, we develop synthetic transporters with potential for possible replacement therapeutics for malfunctioning membrane ion channels, or alternatively, as anticancer and antimicrobial agents. Considering that lipid domains and ion fluxes are intimately related, the experimental study of ion transport in the membrane models developed by the group will contribute to the major goal of our group. Many of the compounds developed by us are from natural origin, namely, essential oils from aromatic and medicinal plants, seeking the valorization of Portugal natural resources; others are bioinspired and synthesized using efficient and environmentally friendly synthetic approaches, contributing to the Thematic Line "Chemistry and biochemistry for a clean environment".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Departamento de Química e Bioquímica

Faculdade de Ciências da UL

Molecular Biophysics Lab.

Campo Grande, Ed. C8 Piso 4

1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal