Thesis Project Description:
Biological linkers, in the form of ligand-receptor bonds, are mechanosensitive structures since their kinetics and strength are force dependent. Living cells too are mechanosensitive but at a different scale – their structure and function depend on forces that they sense and exert. However, a big current challenge, and the overarching goal of this project, is to bridge our understanding of the molecular and cellular scales, in space and time. To do so, we will be focusing on the T cell immune response, a crucial process at the heart of our acquired immunity. We will design innovative substrates to manipulate cell adhesion using state-of-art micro and nano-fabrication techniques while measuring cell generated forces. We will also develop the means to couple cell force measurements with atomic force microscopy (AFM) and optical tweezers (OT) in order to simultaneously record the modulations in cell mechanics and forces. Additionally, we will quantify cellular activation levels and link them to theoretical models derived from our previous work. In brief, we aim to describe mechanotransduction from molecular to cellular level in the frame of T cell activation.
Interdisciplinary Research Axis:
Imaging + Nano-health
Lebanese University (LB)