Working Group Cavalcanti
Cell adhesion to the extracellular matrix regulates many physiological and pathological events, such as migration, proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. Upon binding to the extracellular matrix, integrin clustering, cytoplasmic proteins recruitment and actin stress fibers assembly are key processes during adhesion. This results in signaling for active spreading and reorganization of cell architecture.
While it is known that focal adhesions play a central role during these processes, the molecular mechanisms underlying focal adhesion formation are still not fully understood.
The goal of the group is to elucidate the fundamental regulation of focal adhesions. In particular, the team’s research focuses on the physical aspects that control focal adhesion assembly and signaling. Using nanopatterned surfaces presenting adhesive motifs we are dissecting the role of receptor spatial regulation and ligand densities during adhesion and migration. By varying the spacing between ligands, we aim at modulating receptor clustering and adhesion-dependent signaling. Different biomolecular strategies are applied to direct cell function and microscopy-based cell biology approaches are used to investigate structural and molecular changes.