Living cells are the basic modules of higher organisms. Their architecture is extremely complex and changeable. Almost every single cell interacts intensively with its environment in order to guarantee structure and function of multicellular tissues and organs. These crucial interactions work both ways. They can either be factors (like chemicals) released by a cell or external stimuli tensed by it. Such interactions control important processes such as embryonic development, tissue architecture, differentiation and proliferation.
Whenever cells adhere to the microstructured elastomer substrate forces generated by these cells affect and deform it.
The deformation field is used to calculate cellular forces with high local and temporal resolution. Cellular forces are one of the most evident mechanical functions of cells. Due to this they are a focus of our research.
Besides chemical factors most recent research has shown that mechanical stimuli play a decisive role. Cellular and environmental mechanical properties and processes can be fundamental as cellular function as well as cellular signals. These factors comprise topography, deformation, elasticity and force – one of the most relevant research foci of this institute. Special attention is given to the generation and recognition of mechanical functions and signals as well as to cellular reactions triggered by mechanical processes.