Actin-based materials

15 April 2016

Margaret Gardel
Department of Physics
University of Chicago


Networks of the semi-flexible biopolymer actin are essential determinants of the mechanical behaviors of eukaryotic cells. Actin networks have revealed novel mechanical behaviors not observed in physical biopolymers, arising both from its semi-flexibility and mechanochemical activity of constituents. I will discuss current understanding of how the structure and mechanics of materials constructed from F-actin is controlled. I will also discuss our understanding of how the introduction of molecular motor protein, myosin II, drives the self-organizaiton and contractility of these networks. Finally, I will describe a novel type of mechanomemory that we recently discovered in cross-linked actin network. Our results provide a strategy for designing a novel class of materials and demonstrate a new putative mechanism of mechanical sensing in eukaryotic cells.

current theory lunch schedule