Cellular mechanobiology: from screening to disease biophysics
Cells are materials and the physical properties of cells are critical for many physiological functions including how cells deform to circulate through the body and how cells resist mechanical stresses. A major goal of the Rowat lab is to understand how cells maintain their physical properties and regulate them in response to external cues. To achieve this goal, we developed a high throughput platform to quantify cell deformability using knowledge of the physics of fluid flow through porous media. We recently conducted a screen of 1280 small molecules and discovered compounds that make cancer cells stiffer and less invasive. These findings are also an important step towards defining the ‘mechanome’, the set of genes, proteins, and pathways that regulate cellular mechanotype. In this talk I will also discuss how we are applying concepts and tools in physics to understand cell mechanotype regulation in diverse contexts from cancer progression to growing cultured meat as a sustainable protein alternative.