7th Annual Symposium
Physics of Cancer
October 4-6, 2016
|PoC - Physics of Cancer - Annual Symposium|
Cytoskeletal Intermediate Filaments - from Self-Assembly to Cell Mechanics
Georg-August-University Göttingen, Institute for X-Ray Physics, Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
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Biological cells are pervaded by a dense biopolymer network of fibrous proteins, collectively called the cytoskeleton. The exact structures comprising this composite network are majorly important for the mechanical properties of the cells, which in turn support their physiological function. The cytoskeleton consists of three filamentous systems, actin filaments, microtubules and intermediate filaments (IFs) along with a plethora of binding proteins and molecular motors. Among the three filamentous systems, IFs self-assemble in a highly hierarchical manner giving rise to a very particular molecular architecture. IFs are expressed in a cell type specific manner and are thus being discussed as strong candidates for the precise definition of the different mechanical properties of different cell types. Interestingly, during epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which plays a role for example in cancer metastasis, keratin IF proteins are down-regulated while vimentin IF proteins are up-regulated. Our research focuses on the relation between molecular structure and mechanical properties of filaments and cells. I will present state-of-the art experiments and recent results on the self-assembly of the proteins into filaments and networks. The relevant length scales for these processes range between few nanometers and many micrometers. Therefore, we employ small angle x-ray scattering (SAXS), x-ray nano-diffraction, static and dynamic light scattering (SLS/DLS), fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), and fluorescence microscopy. As some of these methods are inherently slow and thus provide only a low time resolution, we combine the observation techniques with microfluidics to obtain in situ data.