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Current Research Projects

How do cells cope?

Cells are exposed to mechanical forces outside and within itself. Cellular response to these cues regulate fundamental cellular processes, including migration, proliferation, and differentiation. These mechanical inputs are transmitted through the force-sensitive actin cytoskeleton. The nucleus, central to cellular decision making, must respond to such mechanical inputs. To understand the mechanism of cellular reprogramming, our lab is elucidating how force-sensitive actin regulates the conversion of mechanical cues to biochemical ones.

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How do cells move?

Cells in the human body are constantly on a move. This not only allows our cells to carry out their functions in the right place at the right time. When the movement of cells goes awry, devastating consequences often happen, such as wounds that never heal, immune deficiencies, and cancer. Therefore, one research focus of our lab is to uncover the molecular basis of signaling pathways that regulate cell migration by using state-of-the-art biophysical and biochemical techniques.

How do cells grasp?

Cells generate pulling forces to hold onto their environments with adhesions. These grips, called focal adhesions, link the outside matrix to the actin cytoskeleton inside. Without dynamic focal adhesion cycling and grasping, cells have reduced movement and compromised tissue integrity. To understand how focal adhesions are formed and disassembled, we are investigating adhesion microdomain signaling driven by self-generated contractile forces in a cell model.

How do cells feel?

Cells are exposed to a plethora of biomechanical inputs which need to be integrated for proper control of cell migration. Extracellular fluid (ECF) viscosity is one such input that nearly all cells in our body are exposed to, yet we have little mechanistic insight into how fluid viscosity information is interpreted and translated into changes in cell behavior. We are currently trying to unravel the complex sequence of events that enable cells to respond to changes in ECF viscosity.


Toronto | Ontario | Canada

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