Mechanotransduction and Tissue Homeostasis
We study molecular scale force transmission and sensing in the context of tissue stiffness homeostasis. Under healthy conditions tissues and the cells within them maintain relatively constant control of mechanical properties, and when this regulation is perturbed a disease state often follows (fibrosis, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal degeneration). Using a combination of molecular tension sensors, quantitative live cell imaging, and engineered fibrous environments we study how force transfer though extracellular and cytoskeletal networks dictate the downstream signaling and feedback mechanisms that can both maintain or inhibit tissue regeneration. The overall goal of this work is to identify and target natural homeostatic mechanisms in order to prevent or reverse fibrotic disease processes.