CANCELLED (Covid-19 situation): "Understanding Cell-ECM Interaction: from Elasticity to Viscoelasticity"


Event details

Date and time 13.03.2020 16:0017:00  
Place and room
Speaker Alberto Elosegui-Artola, Ph.D., Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (USA)
Category Conferences - Seminars

The mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix (ECM) regulate cellular processes during development, cancer and wound healing. The vast majority of research efforts in this field have focused on the ECM’s elasticity as a leading determinant of cell and tissue behaviour. I have shown previously 1) the mechanism by which integrins detect and adapt to the elasticity of the extracellular matrix1,2, 2) the biophysical molecular mechanism by which cells sense tissue elasticity and transduce it into downstream signaling3, and 3) how force transmitted from the ECM to the nucleus is enough to translocate transcriptional regulators to the nucleus by decreasing the mechanical restriction of nuclear pores4. However, the ECM is not merely elastic - it is both viscous and elastic. As a consequence, biological tissues exhibit a hybrid response to loading: a first instantaneous solid elastic response followed by a time-dependent liquid viscous behaviour. Due to its viscoelastic nature, the ECM response to mechanical loads is inherently dynamic and evolves with time, independently of matrix degradation. Despite the universality of ECM viscoelasticity, the extent to which viscoelasticity affects cell and tissue function is yet unknown. Here I will show my studies on differential cellular behaviour in viscoelastic and elastic ECMs in very different contexts. First, I will reveal the biophysical and molecular mechanisms that regulate the response of breast epithelial cells in 3D viscoelastic materials in the context of cancer. Then I will expand this knowledge to the development of intestinal organoids. I will finally give an overview on how pushing the frontiers of mechanobiology in the realm of viscoelastic materials may have profound implications in many biological fields, ranging from morphogenesis to cancer, and applied fields such as tissue engineering and biomaterials design.

  1. Elosegui-Artola et al. Rigidity sensing and adaptation through regulation of integrin types. Nature materials (2014).
  2. Elosegui-Artola et al. Control of mechanotransduction by molecular clutch dynamics. Trends in Cell Biology (2018).
  3. Elosegui-Artola et al. Mechanical regulation of a molecular clutch defines force transmission and transduction in response to matrix rigidity. Nature cell biology (2016).
  4. Elosegui-Artola et al. Force triggers YAP nuclear entry by regulating transport across nuclear pores. Cell (2017)

Zoom link for attending remotely:

IMPORTANT NOTICE: this seminar can be followed via Zoom web-streaming only (link above), due to restrictions resulting from the ongoing Covid-19 situation.

Practical information

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  • Free