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Cancer cell mechanics using AFM

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Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. One of the cancer main features is the rapid proliferation of abnormal cells and their invasion into vital organs (metastasis) which is the main cause of death in cancer disease. Recently it was suggested that biological function changes are associated with the enhanced capability of cancer cells to adapt to changing environments [1] by changing their mechanical properties. Thus, the understanding of the cell mechanical properties is crucial for the study of tumor progression. The aim of this project is to measure such viscoelastic properties of cancer cells in contact with different environnements.

We will use an AFM, which we have adapted to investigate the viscoelastic properties of living cells [2], in force modulation mode. Cells adhere on a substrate which has tunable properties. We use soft polyacrylamide gels [3], collagen gels or endothelial cell monolayer as the substrate.
The trainee will make different soft substrates and measure the viscoelastic properties of cancer cells adherent to these substrates using AFM. The microscopic observation of the cytoskeleton will also be carried out. This work will use different cancer cell lines, and will be carried out in collaboration with biologists at Institut Albert Bonniot.
This project can be continued further with a PhD

[1] G. Weder, M.C. Hendriks-Balk, R. Smajda, D. Rimoldi, M. Liley, H. Heinzelmann, A. Meister, and A. Mariotti, Increased plasticity of the stiffness of melanoma cells correlates with their acquisition of metastatic properties, Nanomedicine, 10(1) :141 ?148 (2014)
[2] Y. Abidine, V.M. Laurent, R. Michel, A. Duperray, L.I. Palade, C. Verdier, Physical properties of polyacrylamide gels probed by AFM and rheology, Europhys. Letters, 109, 38003 (2015)
[3] Y. Abidine, V.M. Laurent, R. Michel, A. Duperray, C. Verdier, Local mechanical properties of bladder cancer cells measured by AFM as a signature of metastatic potential, Eur. Phys. J. Plus, 130, 202 (2015)

Contact :

Claude Verdier 04 76 63 59 80
Valérie Laurent 04 76 51 49 13