Revealing the Nanoscale Order of Dynamic Molecules Within Microscale Assemblies (Part-II)
Living systems differ from inanimate ones by their ability to create and sustain ordered assemblies of molecules at the expense of chemical energy. The ‘parts list’ of biomolecular assemblies is being discovered at a rapid pace, but how these parts come together to form functional cellular mechanisms remains an outstanding question in many fields of biology. For example, the principal components of the cellular contractile machinery that shapes, divides, and moves cells have been known for a long time, viz., actomyosin network, plasma membrane, and adhesion complexes. But the dynamic architecture of this machinery remains challenging to measure, especially in three-dimensional (3D) (patho)physiological environments.
The architecture of the molecular assemblies within cells that adhere to 2D unphysiological substrates often does not provide predictive insights into the assemblies’ function in the 3D physiological environments. We have devised a confocal LC-PolScope, which employs liquid crystal (LC)-based tuning of polarization, to measure nanoscale alignment and orientation of filamentous assemblies in 3D environments. Our data provides new insights into the molecular architecture of the contractile machinery that drives cytokinesis and migration of cells in 3D environments.
Building upon above advances, the future studies will reveal the molecular architectural basis of the directional forces generated by single cells and a collective of cells within 3D (patho)physiological environments.