Dissecting cell membrane mechanics with DNA nanoprobes

Stefan Howorka (primary)
Department of Chemistry
University College London
Ulrike Eggert (secondary)
Randall Division
King's College London


For many biological processes, cells need to exert and resist mechanical forces. How cell mechanics is determined by different cellular components is, however, not understood.  One fundamental question is the contribution of bilayer membranes compared to the cytoskeleton. The goal of this interdisciplinary project is to understand cell membrane mechanics with new nanoscale probes. The highly tunable DNA nanostructures will deform bilayers similar to an AFM cantilever tip yet allow for only nanoscale membrane distortions. Simple fluorescence read-out will enable highly parallel analysis of multiple membrane sites per cell leading to the  first-ever visualization of spatiotemporal nanomechanics in cell membranes.


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Molecules, cells and industrial biotechnology
Area of Biology
Cell BiologyChemical Biology
Techniques & Approaches
BiophysicsChemistryImage ProcessingMicroscopy / ElectrophysiologyMolecular Biology