Growth Factor Mechanobiology

Growth Factor Mechanobiology

Group leader: Priv. Doz. Dr. Dr. E. Ada Cavalcanti-Adam

Mechanical forces exerted by cells during adhesion and migration are adjusted through molecular interactions of receptors at the cell membrane. Adhesive molecules and growth factors, which are present in the extracellular environment, regulate cell adhesion and migration. The integration of growth factor and adhesion signaling into mechanosensing and mechanotransduction remains partly unknown.

Our research focus is on unraveling the molecular mechanisms that coordinate signaling coming from biochemical and biomechanical cues present in the cell environment. We work on mimicking the physico-chemical properties of the extracellular matrix to study forces in cell adhesion and migration. We use nano- and micro-fabrication tools combined with the development of surface functionalization approaches to achieve a spatio-temporal control over receptor-mediated cell-surface interactions. By applying biophysical methods, ranging from single molecule experiments to single cell and multicellular systems, we study how forces are generated and integrated in cells.

We are conducting three research programs based on the following subjects:

1. Development of material functionalization tools for cell biology applications

2. Cell surface receptor mechanics and crosstalk

3. Biophysics of cell signaling and mechanotransduction

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