BME Seminar Series: Dr. Mingming Wu, Cornell University
"Biophysical Force Regulation in Tumor Cell Invasion"
When embedded within 3D extracellular matrices (ECM), animal cells constantly probe and adapt to the ECM locally (at cell length scale) and exert forces and communicate with other cells globally (up to 10 times of cell length). It is now well accepted that mechanical crosstalk between animal cells and their microenvironment critically regulate cell function such as migration, proliferation and differentiation. Disruption of the cell-ECM crosstalk is implicated in a number of pathologic processes including tumor progression and fibrosis. Central to the problem of cell–ECM crosstalk is the physical force that cells generate. In this talk, I will discuss about our effort in developing a three dimensional traction force microscopy, and biological insights gained using this technology. By measuring single cell generated force within 3D collagen matrices, we revealed a mechanical crosstalk mechanism between the tumor cells and the ECM. Cells generate sufficient force to stiffen collagen fiber network, and stiffer matrix, in return promotes larger cell force generation. Our work highlights the importance of fibrous nonlinear elasticity in regulating tumor cell-ECM interaction, and results may have implications in the rapid tissue stiffening commonly found in tumor progression and fibrosis.
Mingming Wu received her PhD in Physics from the Ohio State University in the US in 1992, and was a postdoctoral researcher at Ecole Polytechnique in France in year 1992 and University of California at Santa Barbara in 1993- 1995. She became an assistant/associate professor in the physics department at Occidental College in Los Angeles in year 1996-2003. She joined Cornell College of Engineering in year 2003. Starting 2012, she became an associate professor in the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University.