"Rubber vs. Silly Putty: Extracellular Matrix Viscoelasticity and its Impact on Cells"
Ovijit Chaudhuri, Ph.D.
Department of Mechanical Engineering
The extracellular matrix is a complex assembly of structural proteins that provides physical support and biochemical signaling to cells in tissues. Over the last two decades, studies have revealed the important role that extracellular matrix elasticity plays in regulating a variety of biological processes in cells, including stem cell differentiation and cancer progression. However, tissues and matrix are often viscoelastic, exhibiting stress relaxation over time in response to a deformation. This talk will focus on our recent efforts to elucidate the viscoelastic properties of extracellular matrices, and then engineer new biomaterials for 3D culture in which the stress relaxation properties can be modulated independent of initial elasticity and cell adhesion ligand density. Using these materials, we find that the rate of stress relaxation regulates stem cell differentiation, cartilage matrix deposition by chondrocytes, cell division, and breast cancer cell invasion.
The Bioengineering Seminar Series is co-hosted by the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, and the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.