BIOMIM : Biomimetic films and membranes as advanced materials for studies on cellular processes
The main objective nowadays in the field of biomaterials is to design highly performing bioinspired materials learning from natural processes. Importantly, biochemical and physical cues are key parameters that can affect cellular processes. Controlling processes that occur at the cell/material interface is also of prime importance to guide the cell response. The aim of the current project is to develop novel functional bio-nanomaterials for in vitro biological studies. Our strategy is based on two related projects.
Project 1 The rational design of smart films with applications in musculoskeletal tissue engineering.
We will gain knowledge of key cellular processes by designing well defined self-assembled thin coatings. These multi-functional surfaces with bioactivity (incorporation of growth factors), mechanical (film stiffness) and topographical properties (spatial control of the film's properties) will serve as tools to mimic the complexity of the natural materials in vivo and to present bioactive molecules in the solid phase. We will get a better fundamental understanding of how cellular functions, including adhesion and differentiation of muscle cells are affected by the material's surface properties.
Project 2 Investigation of the intracellular linkage between the plasma membrane and the cell cytoskeleton at the molecular level, a crucial aspect of cell adhesion and motility.
We aim to elucidate the role of ERM proteins, especially ezrin and moesin, in the direct linkage between the plasma membrane and actin filaments. Here again, we will use a well defined microenvironment in vitro to simplify the complexity of the interactions that occur in cellulo. To this end, lipid membranes containing a key regulator lipid from the phosphoinositides family, PIP2, will be employed in conjunction with purified proteins to investigate actin regulation by ERM proteins in the presence of PIP2-membranes.
The project is organized in four workpackages (WP) :
WP 1 : Internal dynamics and structure of biopolymeric thin films
WP 2 : Films as a tool to investigate cross-talks between cell adhesion receptors, growth factors and stiffness
WP 3 : Differentiation of skeletal muscle cells on PEM films of controlled topography, stiffness and bioactivity
WP 4 : Reconstitution of plasma membrane/cytoskeleton linkage via ERM proteins