Bio-X Graduate Student Fellow

Awarded in 2011
Home Department: Chemical Engineering
Faculty Advisors: Alex Dunn (Chemical Engineering), James Nelson (Molecular & Cellular Physiology), and William Weis (Structural Biology)

Research Title: The minimal cadherin-catenin complex binds to F-actin under force

Research Description: Mechanical force has increasingly been shown to play an important role in many aspects of biology, such as influencing stem cell differentiation; however, its mechanism of action is still poorly understood in many key protein systems. One critical system is the adherens junction, which mediates adhesion between neighboring cells. Previous attempts to measure the interactions of the core adherens junction components with the actin cytoskeleton have been unsuccessful. Craig is utilizing optical tweezers to directly probe the interaction of these proteins with actin filaments as a function of applied mechanical load, which simulates the nature of these interactions within the cell.