Graduation Year




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Jianjun Pan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sagar Pandit, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William G. Matthews, Ph.D.


critical fluctuation, fluorescence mode, giant unilamellar vesicle, membrane budding, : miscibility transition temperature


Cellular membranes are important targets for many membrane-active peptides and drug compounds. Here we are interested in deciphering how lipid membranes are perturbed by several membrane-active molecules, including the transmembrane domain of the influenza M2 protein (M2TM), aggregates formed by a synthetic polyglutamine peptide, and three polyphenol compounds (i.e., tamoxifen, genistein, and verapamil). We employ phase-separated ternary lipid model membranes in the form of giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) to simulate raft-like structures that have been proposed to govern many important processes in plasma membranes (e.g., intracellular singling and trafficking). Specifically, we use fluorescent microscopy to interrogate how those membrane additives modulate the phase behavior of free-standing GUVs, as well as the miscibility transition temperature (Tm). We find that M2TM increases Tm and causes vesicle budding; polyglutamine aggregates disrupt lipid membranes; and the three polyphenol compounds exert disparate effects on GUV Tm.