New Research


2017/02/01

Mechanisms of cellular mechanotransduction and mechanocontrol

– Revealing the function of living cells modulated by mechanical cues

Deguchi Lab

  It has recently become clear that the function of cells is highly dependent on the surrounding mechanical factors such as the stiffness and 3D geometry of the microenvironment. Upon the mechanical inputs, cells exhibit changes in morphology, structure, signaling, and gene expression that all regulate various functions of the cells. With molecular biological techniques and our own original assays, Deguchi lab works on revealing physical and molecular mechanisms that underlie how cells thus sense, control, and adapt to such mechanical cues.

  We and others previously submitted that cellular contractile forces play essential roles in the mechanical factor-elicited cellular functions. The contractile force or cellular tension is endogenously generated within cells, and they undergo tensional homeostasis in which the tension level is kept unchanged over time. Thus, a temporal change in the mechanical cues affects the setpoint value of the tensional homeostasis, which in turn allows the cells to sense and adaptively respond to the change in the surroundings via activations of particular signaling proteins and genes and resulting structural remodeling.

  We recently published a new assay to evaluate the cellular contractile forces with a high-throughput capability. Relative changes in the magnitude of the forces within individual cells can thus be visualized as shown in the sequential images displayed. With this cell contraction assay or traction force microscopy, we are working on the physical mechanisms of collective/individual cell behavior while focusing on the underlying molecular mechanisms as well as screening of chemical compounds that regulate these behaviors.


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