Post Doctoral Research Associate

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Post Doctoral Research Associate

The aim of the project is to study pressure propagation within living cells using
patch clamp electrophysiology, molecular biology and confocal microscopy.
One of the most striking features of eukaryotic cells is their capacity to change
shape in response to environmental or intrinsic cues thanks to their
actomyosin cytoskeleton. In studies of cellular morphogenesis, the cytoplasm
is generally viewed as an innocuous backdrop enabling diffusion of signalling
proteins. This view misses a major point: the time-dependent mechanical
properties of cells are mainly determined by their cytoplasm because it forms
the largest part of the cell by volume. We have previously shown that the
cytoplasm is akin a fluid-filled sponge and the aim of this project will be to
further explore and characterise the physical properties of the cytoplasm. The
aim of this project will be to directly assess pressure diffusion within cells.
First, we will disrupt pressure distribution in cells extending pressure-driven
protrusions (blebs) and ask whether this impedes bleb expansion. Second, we
will impose a pressure transient via whole-cell patch clamp in HeLa cells and
image pressure diffusion using fluorescence defocusing microscopy. Another
aim will be to map the spatial distribution of pore sizes throughout the cell
using changes in quantum dot mobility in response to dehydration. The
candidate will have the opportunity to work collaboratively with colleagues
within LCN, UCL, and Harvard University.

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