Novel mechanochemical tension sensors for in vivo applications

Year of award: 2017


  • Dr Guillaume De Bo

    University of Manchester

Project summary

Tensile forces influence cellular processes such as cell division, stem cell differentiation and gene expression. At the tissue level, these forces play a crucial role in morphogenesis, wound healing, the immune response and pathological processes such as cancer metastasis. However, our understanding of how force influences cell function in the context of whole tissues is limited due to a lack of techniques to measure force in live tissue. Genetically encoded tension sensors have been developed, but their use in whole tissues has been limited. One reason for this limited use is the low sensitivity of current in vivo tension sensors. At the molecular level, the unique ability of mechanical force to distort, bend and stretch chemical bonds has led to the development of mechanochromic molecules acting as spatially sensitive molecular probes or micro-crack sensors in synthetic materials. Chemical mechanosensors offer a potentially powerful solution to this problem but have yet to be translated into biological systems.

We will take a multidisciplinary approach to develop and test novel chemical force sensors suitable for measuring tensile forces in live tissues.