Jörg Grandl, PhD, PI
Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Mechanotransduction
Every organ, tissue and cell of the human body is constantly exposed to mechanical forces. Life evolved mechanisms to detect these mechanical forces and translate them into electrical or chemical signals. This process is called mechanotransduction and enables organs, tissues and cells to adequately respond.
The Grandl Lab particularly focuses on rapid mechanotransduction, which is initiated within less than one millisecond and enabled by force-gated ion channels. In order to capture such fast processes we routinely use immortalized cell-lines to express our ion channels of interest and patch-clamp electrophysiology to measure their activity with sub-millisecond precision. A particular strength of our lab is the development of novel biophysical approaches to investigate and ultimately understand mechanotransduction.
Our research contributes to understanding fundamental biology, such as the sense of light touch, and human disease, such as inflammatory pain, chronic pain, and itch. As a consequence the results of our work are of broad interest for the development of treatments of disease.
Two fundamental questions drive our work:
1) How do force-gated ion channels work?
We want to understand how mechanical energy gates (activates, inactivates and deactivates) ion channels and how compromising specific aspects of gating leads to human diseases.
2) How are cells sensing mechanical energy?
We aim to explain how many individual force-gated ion channels function in concert and give rise to complex mechanotransduction in living cells.
For those new to the field, our recent review provides an introduction: Touch, Tension, and Transduction - The Function and Regulation of Piezo Ion Channels.