Biophysics of the Cytoskeleton

Main Research Interests


Cytoskeletal Dynamics

I am a biophysicist interested in studying how forces generated at the level of single cytoskeletal filaments are translated in to seamless cell migration. I am presently working jointly in the labs of Jeff Gelles and Bruce Goode at Brandeis University in Waltham (USA), where I use a combination of biochemical as well as biophysical approaches to study actin-based cell motility. I use microfluidics-assisted single-filament TIRF imaging, single-molecule imaging as well as reconstituted systems.

Left: Microfluidics-assisted high-throughput imaging of individual actin filaments (video).
Centre: Arp2/3-based actin filament branching (video).
Right: Actin-based propulsion of polystyrene beads in reconstituted motility media (video).



Phagocytosis

I studied the process of phagocytosis during my PhD at University of Twente. We provided the first experimental proof of the relationship between phagosomal transport and phagosomal maturation. By delaying the centripetal transport of the (magnetic particle containing) phagosome using magnetic tweezers, phagosome maturation was seen to be delayed. We demonstrated that the local viscoelastic properties in the immediate environment of a maturing phagosome remain unchanged throughout the process of phagosomal maturation.

I developed a novel approach to simultaneously measure intracellular chemical and micromechanical properties. This was done by using a combination of magnetic particles functionalized with a pH–sensing dye and a single-pole magnetic tweezers setup. We further demonstrated the application of this method by simultaneously measuring the acidification of a phagosome and the viscoelastic properties of the phagosomal environment.

Phagocytic internalization of a microparticle (white arrow).

000webhost logo