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Cluster of Excellence
Engineering of Advanced Materials
Studies shed new light on cell-cell contact
The role of the physical factors which govern cell-cell adhesion and its stability should not be underestimated. This is the conclusion reached by a team of researchers led by Prof. Dr. Ana‐Sunčana Smith of the PULS Group and Professor of Theoretical Physics at FAU and their German and French collaboration partners. Their findings have recently been published in the eminent specialist journal ‘Nature Physics’ (DOI: 10.1038/nphys4138).
Cadherin-containing model membranes were brought into contact with one another, and various physical parameters which influence the fluctuation behaviour of the membrane, such as the sugar or salt levels, were then selectively altered. Even very small changes had a major impact on the formation and development of cell-cell contacts. Biological processes could thus potentially be regulated by modifying purely physical parameters such as the temperature, activity or local lipid composition of the membrane. The researchers assume, in view of the physical nature of this control mechanism, that similar membrane-induced interactions may occur between the proteins in many cellular processes that are dependent on membrane/protein densities. The research was funded by a European Research Council (ERC) starting grant, an EAM starting grant of the FAU Cluster of Excellence Engineering for Advanced Materials and by Research Training Group (RTG) 1962 at FAU. It will be continued within the framework of the BigThera project of the FAU Emerging Field Initiative.