Life is a chemical as well as mechanical process. At the nanometer scale, mechanoenzymes interconvert force and chemical potential. At the micrometer scale, cells spatially organize their constituents, change shape and move. At the millimeter scale, organisms develop and also move. While we know a lot about the chemistry of life processes, we know much less about their mechanics. How are mechanical and chemical processes integrated over molecular, cellular and tissue length scales?
The Dumont Lab is interested in how cells coordinate mechanical and chemical activities to accurately segregate chromosomes during cell division. How do cells generate, detect and respond to mechanical force to equally distribute their genetic material when they divide? Errors in chromosome segregation can lead to birth defects and disease. While we know nearly all the molecules essential for chromosome segregation, we do not understand the underlying mechanical principles or how key cellular machines are designed to achieve such robustness and accuracy. New approaches are needed and we are using new biophysical and molecular tools to address these questions.