The Lab of Molecular Cell Mechanics
Our lab studies cell mechanobiology at the molecular tension level. Cellular force is crucial for many important cell functions such as adhesion, migration, proliferation, etc. In contrast to biochemical or structural signals in cells, force signals are generally more invisible and elusive, making it highly challenging to image or control cellular force. Our lab develops molecular tension tools to measure, map and manipulate the tensions transmitted by integrins or other mechanosensitive receptors. The main research tools in the lab include TGT (Tension Gauge Tether), ITS (Integrative Tension Sensor) and lately developed CFN (Cellular Force Nanoscopy). TGT globally knocks down integrin tension to a designed level in live cells. ITS converts tension signal to fluorescence, thus enabling cellular force mapping directly by fluorescence imaging. CFN advanced the technique even further by enabling the imaging of single molecular tensions in cell environment, and achieve cellular force imaging with ultra-resolution (~50 nm). With these tools, we investigate the roles of integrin tensions in cell adhesion, migration, platelet contraction, etc.