Our primary interest lies in understanding the mechanical properties of the cytoskeleton, a dynamic protein polymer network
that forms the foundation of cellular architecture, giving cells strength and enabling them to crawl, change shape and divide. This complex
network is comprised of several classes of protein filaments, including actin and microtubules, and is constantly being remodeled through the work of accessory binding proteins that promote changes in filament length and organization. We are particularly interested in the role of motor proteins, enzymes that use the energy released in chemical reactions to exert forces and move in cells.
To investigate the biophysical and biochemical basis of cellular mechanics, we use a wide variety of experimental techniques,
including: high-precision optical trapping to probe single molecules of motor and crosslinking proteins; micromechanical manipulation of cytoskeletal
networks that are reconstituted from purified components or assembled in cell extracts; and advanced fluorescence imaging of the self-assembly of
large protein complexes. We are also working to develop novel methods of measuring interaction and deformation forces within living cells.