IJM Seminar – Jacopo Di Russo – 29/03/2024

IJM Seminar – Jacopo Di Russo – 29/03/2024

Invited by the Ladoux/Mège Lab, Jacopo Di Russo (REMeD lab – Interdisciplinary Centre for Clinical Research, RWTH Aachen University and DWI – Leibniz-Institute for Interactive Materials) will present an IJM seminar on the theme:

Mesoscale Epithelial Mechanobiology and Cellular Interfaces



Mechanical properties regulate tissue functions at a multicellular length scale or mesoscale. These properties depend on the interaction of cells with their interfaces, hence on the balance between intercellular tension and the extracellular matrix (ECM) adhesion forces.

My group aims to dissect the role of cell-ECM and cell-cell communication in epithelial mechanobiology, starting from the medically relevant retinal epithelium. In contrast to the experimental investigation of traditional biological sciences, my laboratory uses cross-disciplinary approaches combining synthetic hydrogels with stem cell-based models. We particularly develop and adapt biohybrid systems where cells interact with hydrogels that are designed to control cell-cell or cell-ECM adhesion. Synthetic material allows the unique reduction of the degree of freedom in the cellular/tissue system, thus helping us to reveal phenotypical tissue plasticity and molecular function.

My talk will first give an overview of published work[1],[2] on understanding how ECM physical (elasticity) and biochemical cues (receptor density) impact epithelial system properties, namely stress heterogeneity and intercellular force coordination. I will show that these properties are not only in vitro observations but play pivotal roles in controlling our vision. A density gradient of ECM characterises the contractility of the retinal epithelium in vivo and modulates its efficiency in supporting photoreceptor cells’ homeostasis. Furthermore, I will show data from the ongoing work which addresses different aspects of the mechanobiology of tissue ageing. We optimised a phototunable hydrogel as substrates for epithelia to model ECM local remodelling on demand. Moreover, we developed microgels used as phototunable phantom cells to simulate age-related tissue mechanical anisotropy. Altogether, we can dissect the relationship between tissue mechanics and function by controlling the temporal and spatial properties of cellular interfaces.


[2] https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.02.24.529913


The seminar will take place on Friday, March 29th at 11.45 am in room François Jacob.