Thermal conductivity of the cell membrane in the presence of cholesterol and amyloid precursor protein

N Rafieiolhosseini and MR Ejtehadi, PHYSICAL REVIEW E, 102, 042401 (2020).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.102.042401

The cell membrane is responsible for the transportation of heat between inside and outside the cell. Whether the thermal properties of the cell membrane are affected by the cholesterol concentration or the membrane proteins has not been investigated so far. Although the experimental measurement of the membrane thermal conductivity was not available until very recently, computational methods have been widely used for this purpose. In this study, we carry out molecular dynamics simulations to investigate the relation between the concentration of cholesterol and the thermal conductivity of a model membrane. Our results suggest an increase in the membrane thermal conductivity upon increasing the concentration of cholesterol in the membrane. Moreover, we find that the asymmetric distribution of cholesterol in the two membrane leaflets decreases thermal conductivity. We also find a rectification effect when heat flows in opposite directions through a model membrane decorated with the amyloid precursor protein. The results of this study apply to the advancement of selective treatment methods, as well as the development of new materials such as biological rectifiers.

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