Research Interests

The cytoskeleton is an intracellular structure made of proteins polymerized in filaments organized into networks in the cytoplasm. The cytoskeleton consists of three major components; actin, intermediate filaments and microtubules. The organization of cytoskeletal networks is the main determinant of their mechanical properties and therefore their functions in the cell.

The cytoskeleton organizes via a series of polymerization and depolymerization (assembly/disassembly) events. Network misorganizations, due to defects in the assembly or in the transport of cytoskeletal proteins and/or their associated proteins, are linked to the pathogenesis of many diseases.

The main focus of my research is the intermediate filament network, which is involved in the stabilization and mechanical resilience of the cell, cell migration and signal transduction. Understanding the assembly of intermediate filaments, their organization in networks and resulting viscoelastic properties is essential to elucidate their functions in cells.

An analytical (computational and mathematical) framework is necessary to analyze and characterize the complex processes of filament assembly and network organization; this will allow to test a variety of hypotheses for the mechanisms considered. Combining experimental and mathematical modelling approaches allows a rigorous validation of model hypotheses, thereby constituting a very powerful and inexpensive investigation tool in cell biology.

For decades, mathematical and computational models, mainly focused on the actin and microtubule networks, have been developed to study the cytoskeleton. In contrast, mathematical or computational models dealing with intermediate filaments are rare.