The research was published online by the journal on February 14th. The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Wellcome Trust.
Cells of the body regulate adhesion in response to both internally- and externally-applied forces. This is particularly important to adhesion mediated by proteins such as integrins that connect the extracellular matrix to the cytoskeleton and provide cells with both mechanical anchorages and the means to initiate signaling.
Using delicate force measuring equipment, researchers in Zhu's lab and the laboratory of Andres Garcia a professor in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech collaborated to study adhesion between integrin and fibronectin, a protein component of the extracellular matrix. What they found was that cyclic forces applied to the bond switch it from a short lived state with lifetimes of about one second to a long-lived state that can exist for more than a hundred seconds.
"Force can be very important in biology," said Zhu. "Force has direction, magnitude and duration, so in describing its effects on biological systems, you have to use a more complete language."
Zhu, Garcia and Georgia Tech graduate students Fang Kong, William Parks and David Dumbauld along with postdoctoral fellow Zenhai Li used two different mechanical techniques to study the strength of bonds between integrin and fibronectin. One technique measured the bond strengths in purified molecules, while the other studied the effects of them in their native cellular environment.
"We have very precise force
|Contact: John Toon|
Georgia Institute of Technology