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Redox Properties of Living Cells and Cell Components
The initial objectives of this study are to probe the function of the respiratory chain of E. coli bacteria using SECM. The redox properties of the respiratory chain are studied under conditions of normal function, using redox mediators of different standard potentials. The bacteria are then treated with known respiratory inhibitors and the SECM experiments repeated to determine any resulting changes in the redox properties of the cells. The intention is to elucidate the processes by which the respiratory chain enzymes become damaged and to determine the resulting effect on the respiratory behaviour of the cell. This work is being extended to the study of respiratory chain dysfunction in mitochondria, which has implications for understanding processes involved in cell death and aging in humans. This project has previously been funded by a Royal Society Research Grant and now by an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowship 2006 - 2011 (EP/D070538/1): Probing Respiratory Chain Function of Isolated Mitochondria Using Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy (EPSRC Life Sciences Interface). Understanding the properties of biological components such as bilayer membranes is very important, in order to study transport or electron transfer processes in living cells. However, the isolation and handling of such components is difficult so model systems such as electrode-supported lipid bilayers are often used as biomimics. I use such membranes to study the electron transfer properties of the membrane-associated protein cytochrome c, which is an important component of the respiratory chain of mitochondria.
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