Extracellular matrix viscoelasticity and its impact on cells

Seminar | November 7 | 12-1 p.m. | 106 Stanley Hall

 Ovi Chaudhuri, Stanford University

 Bioengineering (BioE)

The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a complex assembly of structural proteins that provides physical support and biochemical signaling to cells in tissues. Over the last two decades, studies have revealed the important role that ECM elasticity plays in regulating a variety of biological processes in cells, including stem cell differentiation and cancer progression. However, tissues and ECM are often viscoelastic, displaying stress relaxation over time in response to a deformation, and can exhibit mechanical plasticity. My group has been focused on elucidating the impact of ECM viscoelasticity and plasticity on cells. Our approach involves the use engineered biomaterials for 3D culture, in which the mechanical properties can be independently modulated. In this talk, I will discuss our recent findings on how cells sense ECM viscoelasticity through stretch activated ion channels, how cancer cells generate extracellular force in order to divide in confining ECMs, and on how matrix mechanical plasticity regulates cancer cell migration.