Archaea as a skillful mechanoresponsive machine

  • Starts: 12:20 pm on Monday, November 28, 2022
  • Ends: 1:15 pm on Monday, November 28, 2022
Cells sense and respond to their physical surroundings using organized molecular machinery that is tightly regulated in space and time. Furthermore, cells have co-evolved their biomechanical and biochemical traits in order to convert physical signals from the environment into biological information. As a result, we contemplate a diversity of cellular structures with different material properties and functions. Using genetics, biophysics, and cell biology tools, the Bisson Lab aims to understand how unusual polygonal-shaped archaeal cells are assembled. Different from the vast majority of microbes, archaeal cells are devoid of a rigid envelope, allowing them to shape-shift into different cell types in response to physical and chemical stimuli. Here, I will discuss our recent discovery of how specific mechanical perturbations trigger the development of tissue-like structures similar to known primitive multicellular eukaryotes. Using tools such as RNA-Seq, CRISPRi, and super-resolution microscopy, we characterized new important factors specific to multicellular lifestyles such as cytoskeletal polymers, mechano-channels, and cell-cell junctions. Altogether, we believe this novel and unexpected discovery introduces a new way of understanding the potential of prokaryotes to self-organize into complex cellular structures. We would also like to speculate on possible molecular mechanisms that enabled archaeal cells to conserve such "squishy" properties, which reflects many challenges for cell biologists domesticating this domain of life.
LSE 103
Joe Larkin
Alex Bisson
Brandeis University