It's a trap! Confining cells via protein micropatterning (BEP/MEP)


Living cells are able to withstand large mechanical stresses and deform during migration and division. These seeming paradoxical properties are a result of the cytoskeleton, a biopolymer scaffold of actin, microtubules, and intermediate filaments. The architecture of the cytoskeleton is strongly influenced by the geometry of the cell. 

The manipulation of the spatial boundaries of cells allows us to understand how cell morphology affects cytoskeletal organisation. By trapping cells using protein micropatterns, we shall be able to quantify changes in the cytoskeleton when cells are restricted to adhesive islands.

Goals: To confine cells on micropatterns in order to quantify structural changes in the cytoskeleton.

Activities: In this experimental project you will be working hands-on with mammalian cells. You will fabricate protein micropatterns using UV lithography to confine cells. You will use fluorescence confocal microscopy to visualise the structure of the cytoskeleton in the confined cells. Depending on your interests, we shall then correlate this with mechanical AFM measurements. 


James Conboy ( and Prof. Dr. Gijsje Koenderink (