Our lab is interested in how cell surface receptors convert signals from extracellular stimuli like mechanical force into a biological response.
Our lab is interested in how cell surface receptors convert signals from extracellular stimuli like mechanical force into a biological response, as dysregulation in a cell's force-sensing ability can lead to disease. We use X-ray crystallography and other biophysical methods to ask what "mechanosensors" look like in order to understand the range of structures nature uses to sense forces of different magnitudes and in different contexts, and hopefully identify potentially novel therapeutic targets. We also use and develop single molecule and cell-based assays based on magnetic tweezers to apply forces to mechanosensors to probe how mechanosensors are converted from an "off" to "on" state. We measure both magnitudes of forces to effect a biological response and are developing methods to probe the corresponding structural changes that occur. Finally, we are developing general signaling assays to help us map mechanosensor domains, understand differences between on and off states, and search for new potential mechanosensors.