Biological and synthetic membranes: What can be learned from a coarse- grained description?

M Muller and K Katsov and M Schick, PHYSICS REPORTS-REVIEW SECTION OF PHYSICS LETTERS, 434, 113-176 (2006).

DOI: 10.1016/j.physrep.2006.08.003

We discuss the role coarse-grained models play in the investigation of the structure and thermodynamics of bilayer membranes, and we place them in the context of alternative approaches. Because they reduce the degrees of freedom and employ simple and soft effective potentials, coarse-grained models can provide rather direct insight into collective phenomena in membranes on large time and length scales. We present a summary of recent progress in this rapidly evolving field, and pay special attention to model development and computational techniques. Applications of coarse-grained models to changes of the membrane topology are illustrated with studies of membrane fusion utilizing simulations and self-consistent field theory. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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