Karolinska Institute, Sweden
6 July 2022 at 14:30:00
Measuring biophysical properties of cells in health and disease
Remodelling of our cells as response to environmental changes is essential for their survival and function. Ability of immune cells to pass through tight epithelial cell layers from circulating blood during infection, ability of tumour cells to travel through the body during metastasis, migration potential of the cells after epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition could be examples where cells undergo extensive remodelling. Although numerous studies aimed at finding protein markers during such cellular processes, there is a major gap in our understanding of how collective biophysical properties of the cells (such as stiffness, membrane fluidity, viscosity etc) alter during these crucial biological processes. Similarly, our understanding of how biophysical properties of cells change in diseases is also limited. To gain a thorough mechanistic perception of cellular processes and diseases, it is essential to fill this gap and have a clear and quantitative picture of biophysical remodelling of the cells.
We and others have made extensive effort to unravel the biophysical aspects of cells in a quantitative manner. To achieve this, we developed advanced imaging approaches that could reveal the molecular details with very high spatiotemporal resolution. These technologies allowed us to see how biophysical properties of cells play crucial roles for signalling from molecular to cellular level. Although these technologies were extremely useful to study biophysical aspects of cellular life at the molecular level, their low sampling (one cell at a time) has been a major obstacle to apply them to medical problems that require measuring thousands of cells. This can be overcome with high throughput methodologies that can robustly report on the ensemble biophysical properties of cells which require reliable reporters and instruments. Thus, while developing advanced instrumentation, we also develop reliable probes to quantify different biophysical properties of cells. Here, I will discuss our approach from probe development to high throughput biophysical analysis.