Marité Cardenas – University of Copenhagen

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Center for Synthetic Biology > Meet the Researchers > Marité Cardenas

Marité Cardenas

Associate Professor

Malmö Högskola
Nano Science Center
Department of Chemistry
Faculty of Science

Marité Cárdenas' group has expertise in the physicochemical characterization of bio-nanostructures in the bulk and at surfaces. Currently, we focus on the understanding of the key physicochemical properties of biomembranes for drug delivery questions. Our interest goes over the relation structure-composition-function of biomembranes in general.

Examples of research within the group include examinations of mechanistic aspects of nano-medicine uptake by cell membranes and the development of platforms for membrane protein studies. The later takes advantage, among other things, of nanodiscs which are self-assembled particles composed of phospholipids and two amphipathic belt proteins for each disc.

The nanodisc provides a native-like model of the cell membrane and can harbor a single membrane protein. The objective is to adsorb nanodiscs on surfaces and use Neutron reflection in combination with X-ray reflection and grazing X-ray diffraction to extract unique structural information for functional membrane proteins.

Simple model systems, such as the nanodiscs that contain membrane protein, that properly represent the cell membrane are a prerequisite in the screening and development of new and more potent drugs under in vitro conditions.

The group has succeeded in probing the structure of membrane proteins in such nanodiscs films by studying the conformation equilibrium of a plant reductase, the CPR.

Figure: Schematics of a typical neutron experiment, in which we probe the structure of adsorbed films containing membrane proteins. The measure gives information on thicknesses of each compositionally distinct layer and relative composition within them.


Trained as a Chemist, I have a broad education covering human physiology, biochemistry, food technology and biotechnology, as well as physical and surface chemistry.
2011-present Associate professor at the Department of Chemistry, Copenhagen University.
2009-2011 Assistant professor at the Department of Chemistry, Copenhagen University.
2004 PhD from Physical Chemistry, Lund University.
2001 MSc, Food Technology, Lund Technical University.
1999 MSc, Chemistry, Universidad Simon Bolivar.

Collaborations within the Center for Synthetic Biology
Seong Wook Yang
Tom Vosch
Thomas Günther-Pomorski
Lise Arleth
Dimitrios Stamou
Claus Juul Løland
Knud J. Jensen
Nikos Hatzakis
Tomas Laursen, PhD student
Bo Højen Justesen, PhD student
Diana Krüger, PhD student
Kell Mortensen
Robert Feidenhans’l

Selected Scientific Publications

Jagalski, V., Barker, R., Thygesen, M.B., Gotfryd, K., Kruger, M., Shi, L., Maric, S., Bovet, N., Moulin, M., Haertlein, M., Gunther Pomorski, T., Loland, C.J. and Cardenas, M.  Grafted Biomembranes Containing Membrane Proteins - The Case for the Leucine Transporter. Soft Matter 11, 7707-7711 doi: 10.1039/C5SM01490E (2015) I.F. 4,457

Bertram, N., LaursenT., Barker, R., BavishiK., Møller, B.L. and Cárdenas, M. Nanodisc Films for Membrane Protein Studies by Neutron Reflection: Effect of the Protein Scaffold Choice.  Langmuir31 (30): 8386–8391 doi:  10.1021/acs.langmuir.5b00936 (2015)

Günther-Pomorski, T., Nylander, T. and Cárdenas, M. Model Cell Membranes: Discerning Lipid and Protein Contributions in Shaping the Cell. Adv Colloid Interface Sci. 205, 207-220. doi:10.1016/j.cis.2013.10.028 (2014)

Lind, T.K., Zielińska, P., Wacklin, H., Urbanczyk-Lipkowska, Z. and Cárdenas, M. Continuous flow AFM imaging reveals fluidity and time dependent interactions of antimicrobial dendrimer with model lipid membranes. ACS Nano 8, 396-408, doi: 10.1021/nn404530z (2014).

Shi, D., Schwall, C., Sfintes, G., Thyrhaug, E., Hammershoj, P., Cardenas, M., Simonsen, J.B., and Laursen, B.W. Counterions Control Whether Self-Assembly Leads to Formation of Stable and Well-Defined Unilamellar Nanotubes or Nanoribbons and Nanorods. Chemistry-a European Journal 20, 6853-6856, doi:10.1002/chem.201402523 (2014). 

Campbell, R.A., Watkins, E., Jagalski, V., Åkesson-Runnsjo, A. and Cárdenas, M. Key factors regulating the mass delivery of macromolecules to model cell membranes: gravity and electrostatics. ACS Macro Letters 3, 121-125, doi: 10.1021/mz400551h (2014).

Wadsäter, M., Maric, S., Simonsen, J. B., Mortensen, K. & Cardenas, M. The effect of using binary mixtures of zwitterionic and charged lipids on nanodisc formation and stability. Soft Matter 9, 2329-2337, doi:10.1039/c2sm27000e (2013).

Wadsäter, M., Barker, R., Mortensen, K., Feidenhans'l, R. & Cardenas, M. Effect of Phospholipid Composition and Phase on Nanodisc Films at the Solid-Liquid Interface as Studied by Neutron Reflectivity. Langmuir 29, 2871-2880, doi:10.1021/la3024698 (2013).

Wadsäter, M., Laursen, T., Singha, A., Hatzakis, N.S., Stamou, D., Barker, R., Mortensen, K., Feidenhans'l, R., Møller, B.L., and Cardenas, M. Monitoring Shifts in the Conformation Equilibrium of the Membrane Protein Cytochrome P450 Reductase (POR) in Nanodiscs. Journal of Biological Chemistry 287, 34596-34603, doi:10.1074/jbc.M112.400085 (2012).

Åkesson, A., Lind, T., Ehrlich, N., Stamou, D., Wacklin, H., and Cardenas, M. Composition and structure of mixed phospholipid supported bilayers formed by POPC and DPPC. Soft Matter 8, 5658-5665, doi:10.1039/c2sm00013j (2012).

Åkesson, A., Lundgaard, C.V., Ehrlich, N., Pomorski, T.G., Stamou, D., and Cardenas, M. Induced dye leakage by PAMAM G6 does not imply dendrimer entry into vesicle lumen. Soft Matter 8, 8972-8980, doi:10.1039/c2sm25864a (2012).

Åkesson, A., Lind, T. K., Barker, R., Hughes, A. & Cardenas, M. Unraveling Dendrimer Translocation Across Cell Membrane Mimics. Langmuir 28, 13025-13033, doi:10.1021/la3027144 (2012).