Research overview

We focus on distinct cellular structures that mediate cell adhesion and contractility. Cell-matrix and cell-cell junctions and the actomyosin cytoskeleton are responsible for the dynamic control of cell and tissue shape during development and homeostasis and their mis-regulation is associated with various diseases.

Collaborating with experts in single molecule imaging, mass-spectrometry, and bioinformatics, and specializing ourselves in genetics and live-cell imaging, we are taking a multi-scale approach – from single proteins to a whole organism – to address the following mechanobiological questions:

  1. How do specific cytoskeletal proteins contribute to the organization and function of cell adhesion and actomyosin structures?

  2. How are signals processed within the “adhesome” and “contractome” to execute the appropriate adhesive and contractile behavior for a given cellular state?

  3. How do adhesion sites and the cytoskeleton sense and respond to external mechanical forces?

 

So far, we elucidated the nanoscale architecture of cadherins at adherens junctions and the molecular mechanisms driving their assembly; we introduced the concepts “cadherin adhesome” and “contractome” and experimentally characterized their robustness and evolution; we discovered a novel molecular feedback mechanism between membrane stretching and Rho GTPase activity that regulates contractility timing in a tubular tissue; and we uncovered a role for non-junctional cadherin in regulating the actomyosin cortex.

 

Below, you will find a list of specific research projects pursued in the lab, and by clicking the ''read more'' button you can learn more about the details. There’s still so much more to discover. What would you like to figure out about cytoskeleton dynamics in vivo? or what human disease would you like to model in C. elegans?

Modeling human genetic diseases in C. elegans

Regulation of actomyosin contractility 

3D cell migration

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Self organization of the actomyosin cytoskeleton in fibroblasts

Cytoskeletal dynamics in embryonic morphogenesis