Date of Completion

Fall 12-15-2020

Thesis Advisor(s)

Yi Wu; Thane Papke

Honors Major

Molecular and Cell Biology


Biochemistry | Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology | Biotechnology | Cancer Biology | Cell Biology | Computational Biology | Genetics | Genomics | Laboratory and Basic Science Research | Molecular Biology | Molecular Genetics | Structural Biology


Mechanotransduction is the process by which a mechanical stimulus is converted to a cellular signal. This process is heavily influential of cell morphology, differentiation, and behavior. However, altered levels of mechanical stimuli are also found in many pathological contexts. For example, cancerous cells have stiffer surrounding tissue than healthy cells, and research suggests that this alters cell behavior and promotes metastasis. Despite these findings, the cellular processes behind these signaling alterations remain widely unknown. Understanding these cascades is critical, as involved proteins can give us a deeper understanding of the role of mechanotransduction, and certain proteins can potentially be targeted by drug therapeutics.

This thesis reviews existing methods used to study mechanotransduction and force within the cell, and specifically investigates the benefits of single-fluorophore tension probes. Moreover, the idea of a novel tension probe, based on protein-protein interactions and bond-breaking, is introduced and developmental steps are outlined.