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Decoding How Cells Use Molecular Networks to Interpret Physical Cues

Common seminar of PoL and CRTD for Scientists

Date:22/05/2019, 11:00 - 12:00
Speaker: Prof. Adele Doyle, University of California, Santa Barbara, Center for BioEngineering
Location: CRTD, 2nd floor, seminar rooms 1 & 2
Host: Prof. Stephan Grill (PoL) & Prof. Michael Brand (CRTD)

Abstract
Cells are computational units that must constantly make important decisions, such as whether to divide, grow, move, or specialize, to maintain tissues and organs in a healthy state. Both biochemical and physical inputs are processed in cells through molecular codes that control the cell's decisions and specify the output cellular behaviors. The decision of a cell to specialize into a distinct cell type (differentiation) requires the cell to modify its ability to sense and respond to input physical cues (e.g., mechanical forces and electrical cues). These physical inputs cause changes in gene expression and cell function that are essential for embryonic development and adult organ function. Disruption of this response disrupts the normal tissue state and, in many cases, leads to disease states. Despite the physiologic importance of cell differentiation, the architecture and behavior of the molecular networks encoding how single cells sense and respond to physical cues remain unclear. In this talk, I will describe work to decode the molecular networks in the cardiovascular and nervous systems. We established the architecture and function of a molecular network for sensing vascular-relevant shear stress, developed a new experimental method called FRISCR (Fixed and Recovered Intact Single-cell RNA) that improves signal quality and detection sensitivity of high-throughput RNA measurements by two orders of magnitude, and developed a new computational method to determine molecular network identity and dynamics during electrical specialization of neurons. I will also highlight related future opportunities for applying engineering insights to study of biological systems.