Prof. Sanjeevi Sivasankar
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of California, Davis, USAProf. Sanjeevi Sivasankar homepage
Cells in tissues exert forces as they squeeze, stretch, flex and pull on each other. These forces are incredibly small - on the scale of piconewtons, but they are essential in mediating cell survival, proliferation, and differentiation. A key protein responsible for sensing mechanical forces, are the classical cadherin family of cell-cell adhesion proteins. Cadherins are essential for the formation and maintenance of tissue; disruption in cadherin adhesion result in severe diseases like cancer and cardio-vascular disease. My research uses ultrasensitive biophysical measurements to resolve the molecular mechanisms by which cadherins sense and respond to mechanical forces. In my talk, I will show how extracellular mechanical forces tune classical cadherin conformation and adhesion on the cell surface. I will also show how force-induced changes in cadherin structure and function are regulated. Finally, I will describe how classical cadherin adhesion can be strengthened using monoclonal antibodies.