C. Grashoff: Molecular Force Measurements in Epithelial Junctions

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Principal investigator

Prof. Dr. Carsten Grashoff

Institut für Molekulare Zellbiologie
 
Quantitative Zellbiologie

Schlossplatz 5
48149 Münster

Tel: +49 (0)251-83-23920 (office)

grashoff(at)uni-muenster.de

Homepage

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SPP funded collaborator

Dr. Anna-Lena Cost

Institut für Molekulare Zellbiologie
 
Quantitative Zellbiologie

Schlossplatz 5
48149 Münster

 

acost(at)uni-muenster.de

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SPP funded collaborator

Lukas Windgasse

Institut für Molekulare Zellbiologie
 
Quantitative Zellbiologie

Schlossplatz 5
48149 Münster

Tel: +49 (0)251-83-23926 (office)

lukas.windgasse(at)uni-muenster.de

Summary

The ability of epithelia to bear, sense and respond to mechanical forces is central to a wide range of biological processes. The epidermis of our skin, for instance, is constantly subject to mechanical stimulation and frequently required to adjust to its mechanical environment. It does so by the use of specialized adhesion structures ‒ for example desmosomes and adherens junctions ‒ that bear mechanical loads and allow coordinated mechanoresponses. Even though it has been recognized decades ago that these junctions are critical for the mechanical integrity of epithelia, our understanding of how mechanical forces are processed within these structures on the molecular scale remains fragmentary. We therefore developed FRET-based tension sensors allowing the visualization and measurement of mechanical forces across epithelial cell adhesion proteins in cells. Our previous studies revealed that desmosomes respond to externally applied forces and are highly sensitive to the magnitude and orientation of the applied stress. In the current project, we will investigate how the expression of distinct keratin networks affects the mode of force propagation in desmosomes and adherens junctions.

Expertise

Molecular cell adhesion mechanics, FRET-based tension sensors