Mechanobiology of Biological Membranes: from Mechanotransduction to Artificial Cells
Biological membranes are involved in a large number of cellular processes including cell migration, membrane trafficking, and cell signaling. Significant amount of work have elucidated the molecular machineries that regulate dynamic membrane-based processes. In parallel, there are growing interests in recent years in trying to understand how mechanical state of the cells are utilized as a regulatory input to control cellular processes. My lab is broadly interested in studying the mechanochemical responses of biological systems. In this talk, I will present two directions related to this theme. On the cellular level, we have investigated the effect of tension on clathrin-mediated endocytosis, and the role the endocytic protein epsin plays in clathrin-coated pit formation under different tension environments. I will also discuss the mechanotransduction pathways of epithelial cancer cells under mechanical compression. In the area of bottom-up synthetic biology, we are building cell-like systems that can sense mechanical input and transduce a biochemical response. To this end, we are attempting to build artificial platelets that mimic the functionalities of natural platelets. I will discuss several modular platforms that we have developed that together will integrate into functional artificial cells.
Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan