Mathematics Colloquia and Seminars

Return to Colloquia & Seminar listing

Cell shape, signaling and biomechanics: the plasma membrane as unifying concept

Mathematical Biology

Speaker: Padmini Rangamani, UC Berkeley
Location: 1147 MSB
Start time: Mon, Nov 26 2012, 2:10PM

Cell shape is a key determinant of many cellular processes. Change in cell shape can function as a cue for the initiation of processes such as endocytosis. On the other hand, cell shape changes as a result of signaling in processes like cell spreading. Cell shape itself is determined by the curvature of the plasma membrane, which in turn, is a result of the arrangement of the lipids, interaction with the cytoskeleton and protein-­‐mediated biochemical signaling. In this talk, I will focus on some of the mathematical and computational efforts that we have undertaken to understand how these factors interact. Cell spreading on fibronectin coated surfaces is an excellent experimental framework for studying the change in cell shape in response to cytoskeletal interactions. I will describe a computational model that captures this phenomenon in silico and provides mechanistic insights into the relative contributions of the membrane biophysical properties and the signaling network that governs spreading. I will also describe our efforts in understanding how curvature of the membrane can generate spatial gradients of signaling molecules and how this may impact cellular decision making process. Since all these processes have the membrane as the common denominator, I will then describe our recent work in modeling the mesoscale properties of the membrane itself and how interaction with proteins and the cytoskeleton can affect these behaviors.