New 2013 Thematic Meeting

Mechanobiology of Proteins and Cells

Mount Desert Island Biological Lab (MDIBL)
Salisbury Cove, Maine

This meeting will provide a forum for analysis of the mechanobiology of proteins and cellular structures by biophysicists, biochemists (including structural biologists), and physiologists. Fluctuations in extracellular osmolality elicit transmembrane water and solute fluxes that profoundly perturb cell structure, cytoplasmic composition and cell function. Sensors, transducers and regulators ameliorate the consequences of those perturbations by modulating the accumulation and release of selected solutes, the (macro) molecular composition of the cytoplasm and the skeletal structures of the cell. Mechanobiology is not only crucial for cell volume regulation but key to a wide range of physiological processes and involves sensing of forces such as osmotic pressure, membrane stretch, vibration, and touch, areas that are included in the program.

Questions that can be answered only through biophysical approaches are:

  • How are changes in osmotic pressure and mechanical stimuli sensed and processed by living cells?
  • How do macromolecule-water-solute interactions modulate macromolecular structure, assembly and function?
  • Which consequences of hyper- or hypo-osmotic shifts are most critical to cell function?
  • What are the molecular mechanisms of osmoregulatory transporters and mechanosensitive channel proteins?
  • How does a cell integrate the various regulatory mechanisms?

Many of these can now be addressed not only in ensemble measurements but also at the single-molecule level and computationally.

Topics will include:

  • Novel biophysical tools to study the mechanics of proteins and cells: computational and experimental
  • Structure of cytoplasm and intracellular networks
  • Structural biology of mechanosensitive proteins, including ion channels, solute transporters, signal transducers and cytomotive filaments
  • Biophysics of mechanosensing and transduction
  • Cellular osmoregulation and ion homeostasis

For information visit

February 2013 Table of Contents