Research

Our goal is to gain a quantitative, molecular-level understanding of how cells and tissues sense, transmit and respond to mechanical information from their environment to regulate critical physiological functions. 

Cells in our body exist not only in a rich biochemical environment but also in a highly complex and dynamic mechanical environment. Whether it is blood flow, lung expansion, heart contraction or the matrix that surrounds cells everywhere, this environment is  critical for most important functions in life. Starting from embryogenesis,  tissue development and differentiation to immune, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and brain function, the mechanical environment plays an important role in all these processes through regulatory interactions with cellular function. Not surprisingly, breakdown or mis-regulation of the interactions between cellular functions and the mechanical environment results in developmental defects, immune disorders, cardiomyopathies and cancer.

We are primarily but not exclusively interested in the cellular function  of directed cell migration and role of integrin-based adhesions as sensors, transmitters and transducers of mechanical information.

Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling work-horse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function, and this is the law. – Louis Sullivan

Our central hypothesis is that multi-molecular structures  such as adhesions allow a cell to sense and respond to mechanical cues such as matrix stiffness, fluid flow by encoding that information and cellular response in its dynamic architecture and composition.  We test our hypothesis by  utilizing a wide array of quantitative microscopy-based approaches and tools from engineering, physics and cell biology and investigate the relationship between forces/mechanics and molecular, sub-cellular and cellular organization, signaling and dynamics.

Our ultimate aim is to extend our fundamental and mechanistic knowledge to 3D-cancer models where changes in the microenvironment leads to tumor growth and metastasis through breakdown of homeostasis between cells and their mechanical environment. By identifying pathways that go awry in cancer, we hope to contribute in developing novel therapeutics and targeting strategies.

News

July 2019: Great to have 2 summer researchers in the lab, Daesung Cho who will be working on building new Image analytics software and physical models of cell migration, and Zbigniew Baster from Jagiellonian University, Krakow (Zenon Rajfur’s lab) who will work on single molecule imaging of Integrin dynamics. Welcome! 

Mar 25th 2019: Now its getting cozy. We are very excited to have Wesley Sturgess and Linn Engström jois us as Master’s students. 

Mar 13th 2019: Had a great time visiting Alessandra Cambi at Radboud University. Great discussions  with Alessandra, Peter Friedl and Koen Van Den Dries.

Mar 1st 2019: We are very excited to have our first post-doc Zahra Masoumi join our lab. Welcome Zahra!

January 2019: New year starts with a new lab member, Fritiof Åkerström who will be an undergraduate researcher in our lab .

December 2018: Warm welcome to Maria Allhorn, our lab manager/technician/research associate

Dec 13th 2018: We are hiring. Please find details here

Nov 25th 2018: We are getting ready to hire. Look out for an ad here for post docs and graduate students! In the meanwhile, contact us anyway.

Nov 5th 2018: The Swaminathan Lab opens its doors in the magnificent BMC building at Lund University. We share laboratory space in D14 with the Nordenfelt lab. Thanks for making it less lonely right now and sharing all your resources and wisdom!

Nov 1st 2018: And we are here in Lund, Sweden! Thank you to the Wallenberg Center for Molecular Medicine for their support.

Publications

V Swaminathan, G Alushin, CM Waterman. (2017) Mechanosensation: A catch bond that hooks only way. Current Biology 27, R1158-1160

P Nordenfelt, T Moore, S Mehta, JK Mathew, V Swaminathan, K Nobuyasu, D Baker, T Tani, S Mayor, CM Waterman, TA Springer. (2017) Direction of actin flow dictates integrin LFA-1 orientation during leukocyte migration. Nature Communication 8, Article Number 2047.

V Swaminathan*, Joseph K Mathew*, S Mehta*, P Nordenfelt, T Moore, K Nobuyasu, D Baker, T Tani, S Mayor, TA Springer, CM Waterman. (2017) Actin retrograde flow orients and aligns activated, ligand- engaged integrins in focal adhesions. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. pp 10648-10653

V Swaminathan, CM Waterman. (2016) Modern microscopy approaches to study integrin-based adhesions. Molecular and Cellular Mechanobiology pp 119-140

V Swaminathan, CM Waterman. (2016) The molecular clutch model for mechanotransduction evolves. Nature Cell Biology 18, 459-461.

V Swaminathan, RS Fischer, C Waterman. (2016) The FAK-Arp2/3 interaction promotes leading edge advance and haptosensing by coupling nascent adhesions to lamellipodial actin. Mol. Biol. Cell. 27 (1085- 1100)

K Shen, CE Tolbert, C Guilluy, VS Swaminathan, ME Berginski, K Burridge, R Superfine, SL Campbell. (2011) The Vinculin C-terminal hairpin mediates F-actin bundle formation, focal adhesion, and cell mechanical properties. Journal of Biological Chemistry 286 (52). 45103-45115.

V Swaminathan*, K Mythreye*, ET O’Brien, A Berchuck, GC Blobe, R Superfine. (2011) Mechanical stiffness grades metastatic potential in patient tumor cells and in cancer cell lines. Cancer research 71 (15) 5075-5080.

C Guilluy*, V Swaminathan*, R Garcia-Mata, ET O’Brien, R Superfine, K Burridge.(2011) The Rho GEFs LARG and GEF-H1 regulate the mechanical response to force on Integrins. Nature Cell Biology 13, 722- 727.

DB Hill, V Swaminathan, A Estes, J Cribb, ET O’Brien, CW Davis, R Superfine. Force generation and dynamics of individual cilia under external loading. Biophysical Journal. 98 (1). 57-66.

MK Ramasubramanian, OM Barnham, V Swaminathan. (2008) Mechanics of a mosquito bite with applications to microneedle design. Bioinspiration & Biomimetics 3(4) 046001

RC Spero, L Vicci, J Cribb, D Bober, V Swaminathan, ET O’Brien, SL Rogers, R Superfine. (2008) High Throughput system for magnetic manipulations of cells, polymers and biomaterials. Review of Scientific Instruments 79(8).

 

Team

Here is a link to the extended members of our lab family found at The Nordenfelt lab.

Dr. Maria Allhorn (PhD.)
Research Scientist
Dr. Vinay Swaminathan (PhD.)
Research Scientist & lab head

Dr. Zahra Masoumi (PhD.)
Postdoctoral Scientist

Contact

We are located at the BMC- Biomedical Center at Lund University. Lund is located in the beautiful Skåne Region of Sweden. We are 35 minutes from the Copenhagen airport and 10 minutes from Malmo. Besides the university, Lund is home to the new European Spallation source and the Max IV laboratory as well a number of pharmaceutical and technology companies and start-ups at the Ideon Science Park. A partial list can be found here.

We are part of the Wallenberg Center for Molecular Medicine and in the Faculty of Medicine at Lund University in the Department of Clinical Sciences and Division of Oncology and Pathology- Kamprad labs.

Contact us:
Lund University
BMC godsmottagning D09
Vinay Swaminathan, D14
Baravägen 18
222 41 Lund
Sweden

Email: vinay.swaminathan(at)med(dot)lu(dot)se