Mechanotransduction by Cell-Matrix Adhesions
Cells in our bodies constantly interact with neighboring cells and their surroundings. How cells sense their micro-environment is essential for all facets of well-being: tissue integrity, proper development, immunity, wound healing, and numerous homeostatic balances. Mechanosensing and mechanotransduction are the conversion processes whereby mechanical stimuli are translated into the biochemical 'vocabulary that drives such cellular adaptation. Detailed knowledge of mechanotransduction is vital for future advances in regenerative medicine, for example, stem-cell based therapeutics. Defects in these processes are involved in serious conditions ranging from developmental defects to cancer metastasis.
Cell-matrix interactions mediated by the integrin receptors are major machinery involved in mechanosening and mechanotransduction. We focus on understanding these processes from both the perspectives of the underlying nanoscale structure-function relationship, molecular mechanisms, and cellular biophysics.
Ongoing cell-matrix projects
Focal Adhesions interaction with the Microtubules (collaboration with the Bershadsky lab)
Optogenetic control of cell-matrix interactions (collaboration with Jan Zimak, UC Irvine).
Adhesions Machinery of Stem Cells (collaboration with Eveyn Yim, U of Waterloo).