Starting up in September 2020, we're proud to introduce our monthly Physics of Life Seminar Series. We'll be hosting top speakers from across the globe, presenting on all topics from fundamental theory to cutting edge experiments. At least initially, seminars will be hosted remotely and everyone is welcome, whether you are a member of College or not. If you're interested, please sign up to our network mailing list for regular updates on speakers; our full schedule is shown below, and you can find details about how to watch live by clicking on the event links.  Recordings of previous talks can be found in the video playlist below. 

If you'd like to suggest a speaker, please do so using this form.

Recorded Seminars

Prof Margaret Gardel

Mechanical Homeostasis in the Actin Cytoskeleton

My lab studies the design principles of cytoskeletal materials the drive cellular morphogenesis, with a focus on contractile machinery in adherent cells. In addition to force generation, a key feature of these materials are distributed force sensors which allow for rapid assembly, adaptation, repair and disintegration. Here I will describe how optogenetic control of RhoA GTPase is a powerful and versatile force spectroscopy approach of cytoskeletal assemblies and its recent use to probe repair response in actomyosin stress fibers. I will also describe our recent identification of 18 proteins from the zyxin, paxillin, Tes and Enigma families with mechanosensitive LIM (Lin11, Isl- 1 & Mec-3) domains that bind exclusively to mechanically stressed actin filaments. Our results suggest that the evolutionary emergence of contractile F-actin machinery coincided with, or required, proteins that could report on the stresses present there to maintain homeostasis of actively stressed networks.

Mechanical Homeostasis in the Actin Cytoskeleton

Prof Margaret Gardel

Mechanical Homeostasis in the Actin Cytoskeleton

Mechanical Homeostasis in the Actin Cytoskeleton

My lab studies the design principles of cytoskeletal materials the drive cellular morphogenesis, with a focus on contractile machinery in adherent cells. In addition to force generation, a key feature of these materials are distributed force sensors which allow for rapid assembly, adaptation, repair and disintegration. Here I will describe how optogenetic control of RhoA GTPase is a powerful and versatile force spectroscopy approach of cytoskeletal assemblies and its recent use to probe repair response in actomyosin stress fibers. I will also describe our recent identification of 18 proteins from the zyxin, paxillin, Tes and Enigma families with mechanosensitive LIM (Lin11, Isl- 1 & Mec-3) domains that bind exclusively to mechanically stressed actin filaments. Our results suggest that the evolutionary emergence of contractile F-actin machinery coincided with, or required, proteins that could report on the stresses present there to maintain homeostasis of actively stressed networks.