Physics Colloquium: Optogenetic control of cell contractility during epithelial morphogenesis in Drosophila

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physics colloquium marisol herrera perez

Physics Colloquium
Optogenetic control of cell contractility during epithelial morphogenesis in Drosophila

Dr. Marisol Herrera Perez
Assistant Professor
University of Rochester Biomedical Engineering

Living tissues undergo dramatic changes in shape and function during development. These changes are driven in large part by contractile forces generated by the actomyosin cytoskeleton of cells. In addition to physically shaping cells and tissues, mechanical forces can also act as cues to influence cell behavior and potentially could help coordinate cell behaviors across multicellular tissues. A major obstacle to understand the role of cell forces during development is the lack of tools for precise manipulation of mechanical cues in vivo. In my research I investigate optogenetic tools to locally manipulate cell mechanical forces in vivo using the model organism Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly). We have developed a collection of genetically-encoded optogenetic tools to systematically control and modulate actomyosin contractility with high precision in the Drosophila embryo. With these tools we have demonstrated local, light-gated recruitment of myosin and changes in patterns of myosin localization across tissues. The optogenetic tools have also proved to be well-suited for studying the dynamics of how contractile forces patterns are established and maintained during morphogenesis.

Speaker Bio:
Dr. Herrera-Perez is an Assistant Professor in the Biomedical Engineering department at the University of Rochester. She received a BSc and a MSc in Chemical Engineering from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogota. She completed her doctoral studies in Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue University, primarily studying the role of the microenvironment on brain cancer migration and drug treatment. Dr. Herrera-Perez extended her training as a postdoctoral research associate in the department of Mechanical Engineering at Columbia University, where she developed genetic tools to manipulate cell forces during morphogenesis in Drosophila embryos. Dr. Herrera-Perez is the recipient of the 2021 Career Award at the Scientific Interface of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. Her current research interests focus on the study of molecular and mechanical cues that drive functional cellular self-organization across length scales.

Intended Audience:
Beginners, undergraduates, graduates. Those with interest in the topic.

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Rebecca Day
Event Snapshot
When and Where
October 06, 2022
1:00 pm - 1:50 pm
Room/Location: 3365

Open to the Public

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