PhD (Cellular and Molecular Biology)
“Mechanical signaling between cells and matrix: The key to understanding tissue function”
The interaction between cells and matrix is critical for stem cell fate, tissue remodeling, ageing and disease. How cells within the connettive tissue sense, exert and react to forces is a major unanswered question. My project aims at identifying different cell types (dormant stem cells) in matrix rich tissue (tendons and muscle matrix) by lineage tracing experiments. Lineage tracing is the identification of all progeny of a single cell. By the use of transgenic mice (Braibow 2.1 mice), individual cells can be randomly labeled (barcoded) with a color palette. Thus a small number of cells can be hereditary barcoded, such that their descendants can be recognized. Once cells will be identifyed, changes in cell gene expression, matrix composition and tissue properties will be determined and cellular dysfunction will be investigated in clinical disorders with altered mechanical integrity, mechanically overused CT, and tissue trauma/regeneration. An understanding of how mechanical signals between cells and matrix are sensed and regulated can provide the basis for development of novel treatments for tissue strengthening.