CBE/ENGR 225 Co-sponsored Seminar: Alex Dunn, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Stanford University
CBE & CHEM E
Alex Dunn, Ph.D.
Department of Chemical Engineering
Host: Todd Squires
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
ESB, Room #2001
*Light refreshments will be provided
Mechanosensing at Cell-Cell and Cell-Matric Adhesions
ABSTRACT: Understanding how millions of cells work together to build living tissues represents a central challenge in tissue engineering. Here I describe our work to understand the protein-based molecular machines that cells use to sense and transduce mechanical force at cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesions. We used a single-molecule optical trap assay to determine a probable mechanism by which cells sense mechanical stretch at cell-cell contacts, a physical cue that is thought to be central in controlling tissue growth and patterning. In related work, we developed fluorescent molecular tension sensors to visualize the nanometer-scale structures that link cells to the extracellular matrix. We find that individual integrins exert relatively modest forces, consistent with a collective model for cellular force generation and force sensing. These observations, together with those from projects investigating the biophysical basis for the sense of touch and cell motility in three-dimensional matrices, suggest deep commonalities in how cells may detect and respond to mechanical cues in a wide variety of physiological circumstances.