Dissecting the role of cell tensegrity in integrating signalling networks
Dr John Robert Davis
The Francis Crick Institute
Regenerative medicine, where damaged tissues are replaced with artificially grown healthy copies, promises to provide major benefits to human health. We need to understand how cells, the building blocks of life, behave appropriately and not wildly like cancer cells. Cells can sense their surroundings and change their behaviour accordingly so if cells are stretched they will make more cells to reduce the amount they themselves are stretched. However, tissue cells exist in environments where they get mixed signals, telling them to do different things. It is a mystery how cells are able to process all of these messages into a coherent response, such as whether to grow or die.
I will grow cells in an environment where I can give them conflicting signals to see how they respond. I will stretch cells and see if they produce a signal indicating they are growing and then see what happens if I give them the opposite message, telling them not to grow. The aim is to build a computer model allowing us to understand and predict how cells would behave in different environments.
The results of this work could help make regenerative medicine a reality.