• Caiomhe O'Neill - PhD Student


    Project: Nanotechnology approaches for the investigation of cardiac mechanosensing

    The composition and the stiffness of the cardiac extracellular matrix change during development or in heart disease. Cardiomyocytes and their progenitors sense these changes, which decide over the cell fate and behaviour. Using nanopillar arrays, we recently discovered a cardiomyocyte specific rigidity sensing mechanism (Pandey et al, Dev Cell 2018). Importantly however, not only the stiffness but also the molecular composition of the adhesion changes in pathological conditions. Especially the different integrin isoform expression is expected to have a major impact on the regulation of mechanical sensing - owing to the differences in their bond strength, clustering behaviour or intracellular binding partners (Ward et al, BBAMCR, 2019).

    I will use a recently developed bio-nanoarray using DNA origami with conjugated receptor ligands (mono- or multivalent; Hawkes et al, Faraday Discuss 2019) to study in detail the dependency of cardiomyocyte mechanosensing and signalling on integrin nanoscale organisation.


    (Co-supervised by Matteo Palma)