"Mechanoreception of Adhesion and Signaling Molecules on the Cell Surface"
Cheng Zhu, PhD
Executive Director for International Programs
J. Erskine Love Endowed Chair in Engineering
Wallace H. Coulter Dept. of Biomedical Engineering
Cellular and Molecular Biomechanics Laboratory (CMBL)
The CMBL's interests lie in the adhesion and signaling molecules of the immune system as well as those involved in platelet adhesion and aggregation. They are primarily focused on early cell surface interaction kinetics and their primary signaling responses, as these are critical in determining how a cell will ultimately respond upon contact with another cell. The majority of their work ranges from single molecule interaction studies using atomic force microscopy, molecular dynamics simulations, or biomembrane force probe assays to single cell studies using micropipette adhesions assays, fluorescence imaging techniques, or real-time confocal microscopy. These assays focus on the mechanics and kinetics of receptor-ligand binding and their downstream signaling effects within cells. T cell receptors, selectins, integrins, and their respective ligands are some of the cell surface molecules currently under investigation in our lab. Understanding the initial interaction between molecules such as these and their subsequent early signaling processes is crucial to elucidating the response mechanisms of these physiological systems. Ultimately, the CMBL's research strives to help better understand the mechanisms within these systems for possible medical applications in autoimmunity, allergy, transplant rejection, and thrombotic disorders.