Dr. Florian Rehfeldt
Major Research Interests
In the last decade it became evident that mechanical stimuli are as important for biological cells as biochemical ones. We are interested in elucidating how cells physically interact with their environment and integrate mechanical cues into their biochemical signalling pathways eventually affecting such complex processes as stem cell differentiation.
One of the key players we are investigating is the acto-myosin cytoskeleton that generates contractile forces and connects the cell via integrins to the extra cellular matrix. Using state-of-the-art microscopy techniques (super resolution, life-cell imaging, x-ray microscopy) we analyze structure and dynamics of acto-myosin stress fibers in response to mechanical and biochemical cues and how the cytoskeleton further impacts the morphology of the nucleus.
We are also designing and characterizing extracellular matrix models to mimick distinct in vivo niches. Here, we employ polymer chemistry and polymer physics techniques to tailor the hydrogel networks to our needs and characterize the visco-elastic behavior by bulk rheology, atomic force microscopy and micro-rheology using optical tweezers.
Workshop: Cell and Matrix Mechanics studied by Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)
The AFM is an ideal tool to study both topography and mechanics of samples in aqueous solution on the micro- and nanometer scale.
In this workshop we will briefly introduce the AFM with its potential for measurements on cells, tissue samples and artificial hydrogels. Participants will then get hands-on experience and will directly see and learn how AFM experiments are performed and analyzed.