The Students

The Big Picture

I study how a cell senses force

I am investigating the tension-dependent activity of the actin-binding protein formin. The chemical activity of some formin variants are inhibited by actin filament tension, whereas the activity of others is enhanced. By utilizing coarse grained and all-atom simulations, I aim to predict the molecular mechanisms that lead to the tension-dependent functions of formin. I plan to test the validity of these model predictions by using TIRF microscopy to directly image actin and formin dynamics in vitro. Ultimately, my goal is to describe the fundamental force-dependent mechanisms that cells utilize such that materials with biomimetic force-responsive properties can be synthesized in non-biological systems.