Theses Doctoral

Cell Mechanics Regulate Mesenchymal Stem Cell Morphology and T Cell Activation

Santos, Luis

The work of my thesis is the cumulative result of 6 years of research in Prof. Michael P. Sheetz laboratory at the Biological Sciences Department of Columbia University, within the collaborative framework of the Nanotechnology Center for Mechanobiology, an interdisciplinary and multi-institutional center for the study of cell mechanics, involving, among other institutions, the Applied Physics department at Columbia University, and the Schools of Medicine of University of Pennsylvania, New York University, and Mt Sinai.
In Chapter 1, I provide an overview of the field of mechanobiology, with an emphasis on the implications of cell-extracellular matrix and cell-cell attachment on cell function. In Chapter 2, I present the aims of the thesis, with a focus on the two cell systems used in the projects described: human mesenchymal stem cells, and T cells. Then, Chapters 3-5 represent the main body of my thesis, where I present detailed descriptions of the projects that I worked on and that successfully made it into scientific publications or that are in preparation for publication. In Chapter 3, I analyze how matrix chemistry and substrate rigidity affect human mesenchymal stem cell morphology in the context of lineage differentiation, and speculate on potential mechanisms that cells use to sense local rigidity. In Chapter 4, I present a new substrate design that facilitates live visualization of the interface formed between a T cell and an antigen presenting cell, i.e. the immunological synapse, and discuss the impact of intercellular forces on T cell activation. In Chapter 5, I explore the molecular mechanism of Cas-L mechanical activation at the immunological synapse of T cells, and demonstrate how Cas-L regulates T cell activation in the context of an immune response. Finally, in Chapter 6, I lay down the main conclusions of the thesis, and discuss ongoing projects that directly follow up on the results of this thesis.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Biological Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Sheetz, Michael P.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 7, 2014