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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Beatriz Fernandez Fernandez

PhD student



Project title: Function of the spectrin cytoskeleton in cell mechanics and tissue architecture: a biophysical study

Summary: Spectrins are evolutionary conserved cytoskeleton proteins which main role is to crosslink cortical actin in cells, forming a mechanically deformable scaffold that lies below the plasma membrane. Although spectrins have been extensively studied in
erythrocytes, little is known about their function in other cell types. My project aims to quantitatively describe the spectrin cyskeleton function in regulating the cortex organisation and morphology, as well as in dynamically coordinating forces and tensions at both cell and tissue scale. This will be achieved by analysing spectrins in human melanoma blebbing cells and the Drosophila follicular epithelium (FE), combining genetics, live imaging, automated image analysis and biophysical techniques. Through this work, I hope to help decipher some fundamental cellular processes and, ultimately, contribute to the understanding of related diseases such as cancer.



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