Department of Physics & Astronomy
University of New Mexico

Physics and Astronomy Colloquium

Controlling cell protrusion – the mechanics, the chemistry, and the surprises

Presented by Gaudenz Danuser, UT Southwest Medical Center

The ability to change shape is absolutely essential to every form of cellular life. One very prominent process in shape changes is the protrusion of a subregion of the cell surface. Numerous mechanisms allow cells to initiate and sustain protrusions; the most abundantly employed relies on polymerization of actin filaments. Actin filament polymerization is controlled by an integrated system of molecular processes – also referred to as pathways – that respond to mechanical forces and changes in the local biochemical condition. The responses are highly nonlinear and dictated by functional overlap between pathways – properties that render the analysis of the system quite challenging. Moreover, many of the molecular processes are spread in space and time, which further complicates the analysis of functional interactions between pathways. My lab has developed numerous imaging and mathematical approaches to illuminate such molecular systems in great depth. I will highlight some of the milestones on this journey and conclude with a recent twist that redirected our biophysical perspectives of cell protrusion control towards cancer biology.

3:30 pm, Friday, March 29, 2019
Room 125, Dane Smith Hall
Southwest corner of Las Lomas and Yale, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Refreshments will be available before the colloquium, at 3:15 pm, in the lobby of Dane Smith Hall.

Disability NoticeIndividuals with disabilities who need an auxiliary aid or service to attend or participate in P&A events should contact Sandra Ortiz (phone: 505-277-5900, email: well in advance to ensure your needs are accomodated. Event handouts can be provided in alternative accessible formats upon request. Please contact Mrs. Ortiz if you need written information in an alternative format.

A schedule of talks within the Department of Physics and Astronomy is available on the P&A web site at