Effie Bastounis, Junior Research Group Leader at CMFI, received a collaborative research grant from the German Research Foundation(DFG) for her project “Deciphering host-pathogen interactions using an organotypic stretching device and biomechanical approaches.”
The project will be conducted by combining the host-pathogen interactions, cell biomechanics and signal processing expertise in Tübingen with the advanced system development, automation and testing expertise in Braunschweig. The aim is to develop an organotypic stretching device to mimic peristalsis-like cellular stretching and to explore how that impacts bacterial infection dissemination within epithelia.
During infection with the food-borne intracellular bacterial pathogen L. monocytogenes, large infected domains in epithelial cell monolayers are forced to extrude to form 3D mounds due to the collective and cooperative onslaught triggered by their uninfected neighbors. This mechanical competition between uninfected and bacterially-infected cells is driven by innate immunity signals and appears to limit pathogen dissemination through the epithelium (Bastounis et al, Developmental Cell, 2021). Here Bastounis will investigate how biochemical and physical cues in concert orchestrate intracellular bacterial dissemination in epithelial cells in monolayer in a multifunctional cell stretching platform. This platform is to be developed in Constantinou’s lab. This device will allow to mimic peristalsis-like cellular stretching, similar to what epithelial cells are experiencing in the intestine and explore infection processes during this setting. This will be possible by combining the host-pathogen interactions, cell biomechanics and signal processing expertise of the Bastounis lab at the Cluster of Excellence CMFI, University of Tübingen with the advanced system development, automation and testing expertise of the Constantinou lab, TU Braunschweig.