Thesis Project Description:
The main goal of this project is to correlate the mechanical response of living cells with the structure of the cytoskeleton of tumor and migrating cells by combining advance atomic force and optical microscopy.
Cells are able to produce and sense forces. These mechanical signals are involved in many relevant cellular processes and functions. Mechanical signals are generated by the cytoskeleton, that is a complex network of protein filaments, forming the structural scaffold of the cell.
More than changes in the mechanical properties of individual filaments it is the supramolecular organization -the structure of the network and degree of crosslinking- and applied stress that allow the cell to modulate its mechanical response.
Two important examples in which cell mechanics and cytoskeleton organization is essential are cell malignancy and cell migration, but the interplay between cytoskeleton’s dynamic structure and mechanics is poorly understood, mainly due to the lack of available tools combining mechanics and structural information.
Accordingly, the two specific aims of this project are:
1. To determine the dynamic structure of the cortical cytoskeleton of benign and malignant tumor cells and its relation with cells’ viscoelasticity, combining HS-AFM and optical Super Resolution microscopy.
2. To implement a new adaptive microscope that combines AFM and confocal fluorescence imaging to simultaneously determine the structure and mechanics of migrating cells.
Interdisciplinary Research Axis:
Imaging and Nano-health
Master in Physics of the matter, University of Calabria, Italy