TAM 461: Cellular Biomechanics

Class Description:

Mechanics of biological cells and tissues: cell structure; mechanics of biomembranes; the cytoskeleton and cortex; dynamic cell processes; cell motility and control of cell shape. Same as BIOE 461. Prerequisite: TAM 251 or equivalent. 4 undergraduate or 4 graduate hours.


Concepts from molecular and cellular physiology (7 hr)

Structure of the cell (9 hr)
Lipid bilayer, cytoskeleton, nucleus, cell junctions, adhesion proteins, ion channels, extracellular matrix, transmembrane proteins, roles of integrins, collagens, and proteoglycans

Mechanics of biomembranes (9 hr)
Fluid mosaic model, shear, extension and bending stiffness; micropipet experiments, laser trap, magnetic twisting cytometer; transmembrane proteins; stress-activated ion channels; cell|ndash;cell, cell|ndash;matrix adhesion

Cytoskeleton and cortex (9 hr)
Fiber microstructure; microtubules, intermediate and actin filaments; models for cytoskeletal mechanics; development and use of scaling laws; Brownian motion effects, entropic/enthalpic models, etc.

Dynamic cell processes (9 hr)
Vesicles and budding; exo/endocytosis, actin dynamics, methods of visualizing actin diffusion and polymerization, mechanotransduction

Cell motility and control of cell shape (11 hr)
Cilia and flagella, lamellapodia, cell adhesion assays, measurement of cell motility, theories of cell migration, simple model for cell migration, environmental gradients/taxis

TOTAL HOURS: 54 + Exams


ME:  Mechanical or technical elective.

EM:  Secondary field elective.

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