Biophysical Journal Editor’s Corner

Molecules, Microscopy, and Actomyosin

Have you read the latest Reviews in Biophysical Journal? Visit and go to the ‘Biophysical Reviews’ Collection to view the full articles. Here are a few reviews published in September:

Interrogating Biology with Force:
Single Molecule High-Resolution Measurements with Optical Tweezers

Marco Capitanio, Francesco S. Pavone

Optical-Resolution Photoacoustic Microscopy:
Auscultation of Biological Systems at the Cellular Level

Song Hu, Lihong V. Wang

Force to Divide: Structural and Mechanical Requirements for Actomyosin Ring Contraction
Inês Mendes Pinto, Boris Rubinstein, Rong Li.

Send your suggestions for future Biophysical Review topics to

Know the Editors

Each month this section of the Newsletter highlights BJ editors.

1. Michael Feig, Michigan State University, Editor for Proteins and Nucleic Acids Section

Q: What is your area of research?

My research area is computational biophysics. Primarily we use molecular dynamics simulations and related techniques to study biological macromolecules at all scales from small peptides to cellular levels. We develop computational methods and have a longstanding interest in the biophysics of nucleic acids, in particular DNA structure and dynamics, and mechanistic studies of protein-nucleic acid complexes. Other areas of interest include interaction of peptides such as phospholamban or viral fusion peptides with biological membranes; solvation around biological macromolecules, both in terms of their physical chemistry and in terms of building effective models that are computationally efficient for large-scale simulations; and development of methodology for computational structure prediction and in particular for protein structure refinement. More recently, our interests have shifted towards cellular scales to understand how biomolecules interact in dense crowded environments with the long-term goal to introduce a more biophysically oriented, molecular view in systems biology.

2. Cécile Sykes, Curie Institute, Editor for Cell Biophysics Section

Q: What is your area of research?

I was trained as a solid state physicist (PhD in Semiconductor Physics) and gradually became interested in soft matter physics and in biophysics. I started a group in 2001 at the Curie Institute in Paris named Biomimetism of Cellular Movements that aims at designing and studying biomimetic systems for a better understanding of cell motility and cell shape changes. This group has been focusing on actin-based motility systems, like beads, droplets, and liposomes propelled in cell extracts or purified proteins. The mechanism of movement was shown to originate from the elastic properties of the actin networks grown from actin polymerization activators at the surface of these objects, and like in cells. Now the group is dedicated to cell mimicking liposomes filled with the cellular machinery (actin and related proteins). The group was able to design and study a reconstituted system of cellular actin cortices, and characterize its mechanics and its ability to reproduce endocytosis. More recently, the group succeeded in reconstituting the contraction of a liposome under the action of acto-myosin contractility. The motivation of this work is to understand how cells move and change shape in a disease like cancer.