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Department of Physics

Experimental Physics VI - Biological Physics - Prof. Dr. Holger Kress

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Chemotaxis & Cell Motility

Molecular gradients drive a variety of biological processes including the polarization of tissues and cells during embryogenesis and chemotaxis. Chemotaxis, the directed cell migration along chemical gradients is a key element of the innate mammalian immune system. Neutrophils, specialized immune cells use chemotaxis to find and fight bacterial infections. Although chemotaxis has been thoroughly studied, the spatial and temporal properties of the underlying intracellular signaling networks are still largely unknown.

An investigation of chemotaxis or other cellular responses to molecular gradients requires flexible control over the chemical microenvironment of cells. We developed a technique to set up molecular concentration patterns that are chemically, spatially and temporally flexible. Our strategy uses optically manipulated microsources, which steadily release molecules. This technique enables the control of molecular concentrations over length scales down to about 1 µm and timescales from fractions of a second to an hour. We demonstrate this technique by manipulating the motility of single human neutrophils.


M. W. Harman, A. E. Hamby, R. Boltyanskiy, A. A. Belperron, L. K. Bockenstedt, H. Kress, E. Dufresne, C. W. Wolgemuth
Vancomycin Reduces Cell Wall Stiffness and Slows Swim Speed of the Lyme Disease Bacterium
Biophys. J., 112 (4), (2017), 746-754
DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2016.12.039

K. Berghoff, S. Keller, W. Gross, L. Gebhardt, H. Kress
Application of optical tweezers for biochemical and thermal cell stimulation
in: Light Robotics - Structure-mediated Nanobiophotonics, (2017), 385-410, eds.:Jesper Glückstad, Darwin Palima, Elsevier
DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-7020-7096-9.00013-6

W. Xu, P. Wang, B. Petri, Y. Zhang, W. Tang, L. Sun, H. Kress, T. Mann, Y. Shi, P. Kubes, D. Wu
Integrin-Induced PIP5K1C Kinase Polarization Regulates Neutrophil Polarization, Directionality, and In Vivo Infiltration
Immunity, 33 (3), (2010), 340-350
DOI: 10.1016/j.immuni.2010.08.015

H. Kress, J-G. Park, C. O. Mejean, J. D. Forster, J. Park, S. S. Walse, Y. Zhang, D. Wu, O. D. Weiner, T. M. Fahmy, E. R. Dufresne
Cell stimulation with optically manipulated microsources
Nature Methods, 6 (12), (2009), 905-909
• Featured in optics & photonics focus, (9), Story 6 (2010), Link
DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1400

J. Colombelli, A. Besser, H. Kress, E.G. Reynaud, P. Girard, E. Caussinus, U. Haselmann, J.V. Small, U.S. Schwarz, E.H.K. Stelzer
Mechanosensing in actin stress fibers revealed by a close correlation between force and protein localization
J. Cell Sci., 122 (10), (2009), 1665-1679
DOI: 10.1242/jcs.042986

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