Research in our lab focuses on biophysical aspects of immune cell behaviour. We currently focus on B cells, which are white blood cells that are central to adaptive immune responses. B cell responses are influenced by mechanical stimuli such as force and the rigidity of neighbouring cells. B cells use protein receptors on their surface to receive mechanical cues outside the cell and translate them into biochemical signals inside the cell that trigger cellular responses. How this information transfer process works is not known.
We investigate the underlying mechanisms by visualising interactions between surface receptors and the extracellular environment, measuring the forces that they generate, and detecting biochemical signalling events that they trigger. We do this using biophysical methods such as DNA-based tension sensors, nanopatterned substrates, and single-molecule fluorescence imaging.
We also investigate how B cells interact with other immune cells in a contact called the immune synapse, with a particular interest in how mechanical force facilitates the transfer of information between the two cells.