Hongbo Yuan


Bi-directional Force Communication on Cell-Matrix - BFCCM
Started on October, 2019
Marie-Curie Fellowship

Cells continually sense the external forces and generate internal forces within 3D extracellular matrix (ECM), such force, associated with focal adhesions (FAs) and cytoskeleton, stiffens and remodels their surrounding environment in response to specific mechanical cues. However, it is extremely difficult to carry out systematic studies either with natural ECM or non-fibrillar synthetic hydrogels, because of less controllable parameters and lack of biological relevance, respectively. To avoid these problems, we will investigate the bi-directional force interactions in biomimetic strain-stiffening matrix, polyisocyanides (PIC) hydrogels, which allow us to control their stiffness, critical stress, and ligand density independently, developed by Rowan/Kouwer's lab in Radboud University Nijmegen, where I finished my PhD. Therefore, the goal of this action is to study the FAs involved force transmission between cell and matrix at nano-scale by the cutting-edge fluorescence microscopy techniques in the host institution, KU Leuven. We will be the first to link the matrix properties, size and distribution of FAs, cytoskeletal structures and cell morphology together by the multicolour 3D super-resolution optical fluctuation imaging (SOFI) technique. The forces generated by cells will be quantified both on cellular and single FA level by traction force microscope (TFM) and molecular tension sensor-based FRET. In addition, we will study how cells remodel matrix in a physical manner, including polymer network reorganisation and stiffening mechanical properties. These results will have a high impact for understanding how cells interact with matrix through force.

Publications

Bellow are some representative publications. For a complete list visit Dr. Yuan's profile on Google Scholar.