The main objective nowadays in the field of biomaterials is to design highly performing bioinspired materials learning from natural processes. Importantly, biochemical and physical cues are key parameters that can affect cellular processes. Controlling processes that occur at the cell/material interface is also of prime importance to guide the cell response. The main aim of the current project is to develop novel functional bio-nanomaterials for in vitro biological studies. Our strategy is based on two related projects.
The first project deals with the rational design of smart films with foreseen applications in musculoskeletal tissue engineering. We will gain knowledge of key cellular processes by designing well defined self-assembled thin coatings. These multi-functional surfaces with bioactivity (incorporation of growth factors), mechanical (film stiffness) and topographical properties (spatial control of the film s properties) will serve as tools to mimic the complexity of the natural materials in vivo and to present bioactive molecules in the solid phase. We will get a better fundamental understanding of how cellular functions, including adhesion and differentiation of muscle cells are affected by the materials s surface properties.
In the second project, we will investigate at the molecular level a crucial aspect of cell adhesion and motility, which is the intracellular linkage between the plasma membrane and the cell cytoskeleton. We aim to elucidate the role of ERM proteins, especially ezrin and moesin, in the direct linkage between the plasma membrane and actin filaments. Here again, we will use a well defined microenvironment in vitro to simplify the complexity of the interactions that occur in cellulo. To this end, lipid membranes containing a key regulator lipid from the phosphoinositides familly, PIP2, will be employed in conjunction with purified proteins to investigate actin regulation by ERM proteins in the presence of PIP2-membranes.
Fields of science
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