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Institute of Bioengineering

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"Investigating cellular rigidity sensing with nanopillar arrays" by Dr Thomas Iskratsch, King's College London

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Date: 6 April 2016   Time: 15:00 - 16:00

The cellular microenvironment, which is defined by both chemical and physical parameters, guides cell migration, growth or differentiation during development to shape the heart and other organs. Conversely, injuries and diseases such as myocardial infarction, muscular dystrophies, or atherosclerosis result in a change of both molecular/chemical and physical aspects of the microenvironment. While chemical cues have well established roles in guiding processes such as migration or cell fate decisions, there is growing evidence of a role for mechanical stimuli. However, the mechanisms that underlie the mechanical sensing remain elusive. Here we focus on the question of how cardiomyocytes sense matrix stiffness and how this influences the formation of myofibrils during cardiac development or disease. For this we are using force sensing nanopillar arrays to analyse the physical/mechanical interaction with the microenvironment, especially also after induction of cardiomyocyte hypertrophy. Using this approach we find that stimulation of hypertrophy leads to an increase in traction forces, related to rigidity sensing, before the expansion of the myofibrillar network.

Location:  PP1 Lecture Theatre, People‚Äôs Palace, Mile End Campus