Biophysics of cell-biomaterial interaction and Mechanical communication
Interactions between cells and their surrounding matrix play defining roles in biological processes. The biological cell can be thought of as a 'living rheometer' continuously probing the mechanical properties of its environment by exerting contractile forces through the actomyosin machinery. It is clear by now that substrate mechanical properties strongly influence cell behavior. Furthermore, recent lines of evidence indicate that cells can respond to mechanical deformations generated by neighboring cells. The basis for this phenomenon and the role of mechanical communication between cells through the matrix is unknown. In my talk, I will describe the progress made in our lab focusing on the role of cell mechanosensing in cardiac cell synchronized beating. In addition I will describe our progress towards design of protein-engineered biomaterials that promote mechanical coupling between cells.