2023 Undergraduate Research Showcase


Mechanotransduction in Stem Cells

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Paul Davis and Dr. Gunes Uzer


Scientists have discovered that prolonged exposure to microgravity leads to degenerative changes in both bone and muscle tissue, but the precise mechanism behind this remains unknown. It is known, however, that the LINC complex pathway plays a crucial role in recognizing mechanical input and transmitting signals to stem cells to produce different tissue types. It is the absence of these signals that causes these degenerative changes to occur in microgravity conditions. Previous research on mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) nuclei and their nanomechanical properties showed changes in cellular stiffness as part of the mechanotransduction pathway. Using atomic force microscopy (AFM) cantilever-based nanoindentation, this technique measures the cellular stiffness of the nuclei and provides insights into the effects of different interventions, such as low-intensity vibrations, genetic manipulations, and pharmaceutical treatments on the stem cells applied by collaborators, Dr. Sean Howard and Dr. Gunes Uzer. By studying cell nanomechanics and nanoindentation, we aim to determine the impact of mechanotransduction on cell stiffness and identify potential pathways for mitigating the negative effects of microgravity on human health during extended space travel.

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