Our field can be defined as theoretical mechano-biophysics. We are looking for physical mechanisms of mechanical processes and transformations going on with and within live cells. Specifically, we are working in two directions: mechanics and dynamics of cell membranes, and mechanical properties of actin cytoskeleton and cell adhesions.
Our current membrane projects address the following issues:
- mechanisms by which specific proteins generate membrane curvature and, in that way, determine sophisticated shapes of intracellular organelles such tubules and sheets of Endoplasmic Reticulum, the transport intermediates and the Golgi Complex;
- mechanisms of protein and lipid mediated membrane fusion involved in fusion of viruses with cells, fusion of intracellular membranes, fusion between cells;
- mechanisms of protein driven membrane fission involved in endocytosis and dynamics of intracellular orgamelles;
- viscous flow of membranes with inserted proteins in the course of cell crawling along the substrates;
- role of membrane tension in cell motility.
Concerning the cytoskeleton mechanics, we are currently working on:
- modeling actin segregation into lamellipodium and lamellum;
- modeling cytoskeleton reorganization during different types of cell polarization.
As physical tools we use, mainly, theory of elasticity and thermodynamics of molecular assemblies.