Computational 'microscopy' of cellular membranes

HI Ingolfsson and C Arnarez and X Periole and SJ Marrink, JOURNAL OF CELL SCIENCE, 129, 257-268 (2016).

DOI: 10.1242/jcs.176040

Computational 'microscopy' refers to the use of computational resources to simulate the dynamics of a molecular system. Tuned to cell membranes, this computational 'microscopy' technique is able to capture the interplay between lipids and proteins at a spatiotemporal resolution that is unmatched by other methods. Recent advances allow us to zoom out from individual atoms and molecules to supramolecular complexes and subcellular compartments that contain tens of millions of particles, and to capture the complexity of the crowded environment of real cell membranes. This Commentary gives an overview of the main concepts of computational 'microscopy' and describes the state-of-the-art methods used to model cell membrane processes. We illustrate the power of computational modelling approaches by providing a few in-depth examples of largescale simulations that move up from molecular descriptions into the subcellular arena. We end with an outlook towards modelling a complete cell in silico.

Return to Publications page