BioNano activities

Nano-Mechano-Biology on living cell membranes

Cell Biophysics & Physical Biology

Project description

Cells of the immune system are constantly under mechanical stress. During inflammation, monocytes adhere and roll over the activated endothelium to extravasate and migrate towards the site of inflammation. Dendritic cells, in turn, extend long cytoskeletal projections to sample environmental antigens and, upon maturation, they migrate towards lymph nodes to activate antigen specific T-cells. All these cell functions involve mechanical activity and they occur in the presence of mechanical stresses. While the central role of cell mechanics and adhesion in inflammation has long been recognized, the actual mechanisms by which inflammatory cells sense and respond to the mechanical stresses are poorly understood. To a substantial extent, this limitation is due to the lack of a physical picture capturing the molecular events that follow the application of physical forces onto the surface of immune cells.

The goal of the project is to explore the effect of mechanical forces on the spatiotemporal organization of mechano-sensitive receptors (integrins) on the membrane of cells of the immune system and its functional role in modulating cellular adhesion.

External collaborations

Prof. Jitu Mayor (NCBS, Bangalore, India), Prof. Diane Lidke (UNM, USA), Dr. Alessandra Cambi (NCMLS, Nijmegen, Netherlands)

Selected publications in this project


  • The balance between adhesion and migration

    Re-activating adhesion on cells of the immune system in Plos One. A recent single molecule study carried out by Kyra Borgman, Thomas van Zanten and Carlo Manzo in the Single Molecule Biophotonics group led by ICREA Professor at ICFO Maria Garcia-Parajo sheds new light on the tight balance between cell adhesion and migration in the … Continue reading →

  • ICFOnian receives HFSP Research Grant

    The Human Frontier Science Program awards grant to Prof. María García-Parajo. The Human Frontier Science Program, a program of funding for frontier research in the life sciences implemented by the International Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSPO), awards Research grants for a broad range of projects under the umbrella theme of “Complex mechanisms of living … Continue reading →

  • Leukocyte adhesion in PNAS

    ICFO researchers introduce new insights into cell migration and leukocyte adhesion. Researchers at ICFO in the group led by ICREA Prof. Maria Garcia-Parajo, working in collaboration with a team from Nijmegen Center for Molecular Life Sciences in the Netherlands have been able to capture the initial steps leading to leukocyte adhesion using Super-Resolution Light Microscopy … Continue reading →


HFSP advanced grant; MINECO Severo Ochoa, Fundacio Privada CELLEX Barcelona, MICINN– Plan Nacional MAT2011-22887: IMMU-NANO-FORCE; MINECO-FIS2014-56107-R

▲ Nano-Mechano-Biology on living cell membranes