The physical properties of plasma membrane lipids play vital roles in B cell receptor (BCR) activation, yet remarkably little is known regarding how lipids regulate the organization and activity of proteins within this signaling pathway. Overcoming this basic knowledge gap is necessary to elucidate the mechanisms underlying this essential biological function and will lead to the development of novel interventions for immune- related diseases. The experiments outlined in this proposal will identify the role plasma membrane lipids in regulating interactions between the BCR and down-stream mediators of the immune response, and will develop experimental methods to modulate lipid-mediated interactions in cells. The working hypothesis is that healthy B cells exploit heterogeneity maintained by a critical composition of its membrane lipids, to balance interactions between the BCR, activating kinases, and down-regulating phosphatases in order to facilitate early activation steps and suppress receptor activity in resting cells. The proposed research tests this working hypothesis by quantifying lipid-mediated interactions between the BCR and plasma membrane proteins in normal B cells and in cells treated with targeted perturbations of lipid heterogeneity. Guided by extensive preliminary data, two specific aims will be pursued: 1) Quantify and modulate effective interactions between the BCR and minimal membrane anchors and 2) Identify the roles of lipids in early B cell receptor activation.
Both aims will utilize a new and tested method developed in the applicant's laboratory to directly measure interaction potentials between plasma membrane proteins using super-resolution imaging techniques.
Both aims will also apply a novel class of membrane perturbations shown to modify the phase behavior of isolated plasma membrane vesicles and the composition of cross-linked BCR receptor clusters in cells. In the first aim, interaction energies will be measured between the BCR and membrane protein anchor motifs expressed in B cells and interactions will be modulated with biochemical perturbations. Under the second aim, the activity of full length proteins involved in BCR signaling will be measured and their effective interactions with other signaling components will be quantified over a range of experimental conditions. A predictive model will be developed that includes protein and lipid interactions, and plasma membrane heterogeneity will be investigated in lymphoma cells with known defects in BCR signaling. Although the proposed research will take place in B cells, it has implications for studying of role of lipids in other biological proceses and cell types. This approach is innovative because it draws on cutting edge experimental methodologies as well as the unique perspective that lipids impact functional processes by modulating effective interactions between embedded proteins. The proposed work is significant because it will establish a mechanism for lipid-mediated control of immune signaling processes enabling new strategies for the treatment of immune related disease through manipulation of plasma membrane physical properties.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed research is relevant to human health because defects in B cell receptor signaling can lead to immunodeficiency, autoimmunity, and lymphoma, and targeting plasma membrane lipids could lead to effective interventions to these human diseases. The proposed research is relevant to the part of NIH's mission that pertains to seeking fundamental knowledge that will help to prevent and treat these human illnesses.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Biochemistry and Biophysics of Membranes Study Section (BBM)
Program Officer
Chin, Jean
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Ann Arbor
United States
Zip Code
Gerstle, Zoe; Desai, Rohan; Veatch, Sarah L (2018) Giant Plasma Membrane Vesicles: An Experimental Tool for Probing the Effects of Drugs and Other Conditions on Membrane Domain Stability. Methods Enzymol 603:129-150
Kimchi, Ofer; Veatch, Sarah L; Machta, Benjamin B (2018) Ion channels can be allosterically regulated by membrane domains near a de-mixing critical point. J Gen Physiol 150:1769-1777
Stone, Matthew B; Shelby, Sarah A; Veatch, Sarah L (2017) Super-Resolution Microscopy: Shedding Light on the Cellular Plasma Membrane. Chem Rev 117:7457-7477
Stone, Matthew B; Shelby, Sarah A; Núñez, Marcos F et al. (2017) Protein sorting by lipid phase-like domains supports emergent signaling function in B lymphocyte plasma membranes. Elife 6:
Irajizad, Ehsan; Walani, Nikhil; Veatch, Sarah L et al. (2017) Clathrin polymerization exhibits high mechano-geometric sensitivity. Soft Matter 13:1455-1462
Levental, Ilya; Veatch, Sarah (2016) The Continuing Mystery of Lipid Rafts. J Mol Biol 428:4749-4764
Olety, Balaji; Veatch, Sarah L; Ono, Akira (2016) Visualization of HIV-1 Gag Binding to Giant Unilamellar Vesicle (GUV) Membranes. J Vis Exp :
Shelby, Sarah A; Veatch, Sarah L; Holowka, David A et al. (2016) Functional nanoscale coupling of Lyn kinase with IgE-Fc?RI is restricted by the actin cytoskeleton in early antigen-stimulated signaling. Mol Biol Cell 27:3645-3658
Machta, Benjamin B; Gray, Ellyn; Nouri, Mariam et al. (2016) Conditions that Stabilize Membrane Domains Also Antagonize n-Alcohol Anesthesia. Biophys J 111:537-545
Burns, Margaret C; Nouri, Mariam; Veatch, Sarah L (2016) Spot size variation FCS in simulations of the 2D Ising model. J Phys D Appl Phys 49:

Showing the most recent 10 out of 17 publications