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A simple model predicts many properties of the adhesions between a cell and a 2D surface

Mathematical Biology

Speaker: Sam Walcott, UC Davis
Location: 2112 MSB
Start time: Mon, Oct 3 2011, 2:10PM

The interaction between tissue cells and their surroundings is thought to be important to various medically-relevant processes such as cancer metastasis and stem cell differentiation. When placed on a 2D surface, tissue cells interact with that surface through molecular plaques called focal adhesions. The cell assembles and, eventually, disassembles these complex multi-protein structures differently depending on the stiffness of the surface and the force applied by the cell to the surface. I will discuss a very simple molecular model of an adhesion that can describe several aspects of focal adhesion growth and decay. This model makes several specific predictions about adhesion growth that, when measured in live cells, turn out to be consistent with experiments. Simplifications of the model lead to some analytic expressions that provide insight into why cell-surface interactions behave as they do.