Molecular and Cellular Mechanobiology

The Molecular and Cellular Mechanobiology research line is focused on the mechanisms underlying mechanical regulation of biological systems. Cellular and molecular forces have emerged to play a fundamental role in a wide array of biological processes. We investigate the chemo-mechanical properties of molecular motors and transcription factors and, more in general, biomolecular interactions. We also study the molecular mechanisms of mechano-transduction, i.e. the conversion of mechanical signals into changes in gene expression and cell fate. We use laser light to manipulate single biological molecules or cells. High-speed optical tweezers allow us to measure the mechanical properties of single motor proteins, investigate target search of transcription factors along DNA as well as load-dependence of the interaction between mechano-transductor proteins and the actin cytoskeleton. Light is also used to image and track single motor proteins and measure intracellular forces through genetically encoded force sensors.

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