and Tissue Mechanics
We are studying the mechanical properties and functions of
animal cells. Nonmuscle cells carry out various kinds of
mechanical activities as individuals (locomotion, phagocytosis,
division) and collectively in tissues (establishment of tissue
tone). In these and other processes it is essential for the cell
to be able to maintain its shape under imposed stresses or to
change its shape to move or do work. Change or retention of cell
shape is determined by systems of cytoplasmic filaments (actin
microfilaments, microtubules, and intermediate filaments) which
collectively are termed the cytoskeleton. Therefore at a molecular
level cell mechanics resolves into studies of the structure and
function of the cytoskeleton and its component proteins.
microscopy: FPR, FCS, FIDA
fluorescence lifetime and single molecule methods
Critical biological functions on the cellular level involve the diffusion, transport, association and reaction of molecules and particles on microscopic and mesoscopic scales. Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS), Fluorescence Photobleach Recovery (FPR) and Fluorescence Intensity Distribution Analysis (FIDA) are closely related techniques that probe these phenomena by the use of fluorescent labels. The labels may be attached to specific molecules, such as receptors in a cell membrane, or they may be molecules that partition preferentially in regions of a particular lipid species in a membrane. Molecules in solution are also studied by these methods.
Our laboratory manages (and is a principal user of) the department's Zeiss Confocor facility. We also have an Olympus microscope with several laser inputs, including a titanium-sapphire laser for two-photon excitation, That setup is maintained by Tom Stump of the Hall lab, who has described it on their website.