Dr. Amy Rowat’s lab is interested in the material properties of biological matter, the origins of this behavior and its role in physiology. Their research efforts largely focus on the shape and mechanical properties of the cell nucleus: they want to understand the role of nuclear physical and mechanical properties in whole cell mechanics and physiology and ultimately the physical and molecular origins of these properties. Malignant cells are characterized by major changes in cell nucleus morphology and nuclear-to-cytoplasmic ratio; these visual cues are widely used as biomarkers for cancer. However, the molecular origins of these physical changes and the consequences for the cell, ranging from its genomic stability to metastatic potential, remain poorly understood. Rowat’s multidisciplinary team is addressing these questions by developing and merging methods in physics, engineering, cell and molecular biology. Developing a quantitative framework to understand mechanical transformations in cancer cells could provide a deeper understanding of cell nucleus shape and mechanics, as well as methods for early detection and mechanical-based therapeutic approaches.
Selected Cancer-Related Publications:
Agresti JJ, Antipov E, Abate AR, Ahn K, Rowat AC, Baret JC, Marquez M, Klibanov AM, Griffiths AD, Weitz DA. Ultrahigh-throughput screening in drop-based microfluidics for directed evolution. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Mar 2;107(9):4004-9. Epub 2010 Feb 8.
Rowat AC, Bird JC, Agresti JJ, Rando OJ, Weitz DA. Tracking lineages of single cells in lines using a microfluidic device. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Oct 27;106(43):18149-54. Epub 2009 Oct 13.
Rowat AC, Lammerding J, Herrmann H, Aebi U. Towards an integrated understanding of the structure and mechanics of the cell nucleus. Bioessays. 2008 Mar;30(3):226-36.
Kasza KE, Rowat AC, Liu J, Angelini TE, Brangwynne CP, Koenderink GH, Weitz DA. The cell as a material. Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2007 Feb;19(1):101-7. Epub 2006 Dec 15. Review.
Rowat AC, Lammerding J, Ipsen JH. Mechanical properties of the cell nucleus and the effect of emerin deficiency. Biophys J. 2006 Dec 15;91(12):4649-64. Epub 2006 Sep 22.