One feature of critical systems is that they are sensitive to small changes in composition. We exploit this to manipulate lipid-mediated structure and function in cells.
We’ve identified a series of compounds that raise or lower critical temperatures in isolated vesicles. Some of these are general anesthetics. We observe a striking relationship between how much treatments lower Tc and anesthetic functions. We are exploring if this is related to the molecular mechanism of general anesthesia.
Cells have found ways to change their own critical temperatures. They do this in the cell cycle, during growth arrest, and when cells are grown at different temperatures. We are exploring how and why these changes occur.