The Gordon lab is interested in developing a better understanding of how cellular and environmental forces, tensions, and stiffness are implicated in biological processes like signaling, cell migration, cell-cell interaction/communication, and disease. To that end, we are developing intra- and extra-cellular tools to characterize cellular mechanical force profiles resulting from gene knockouts, disease, and drug treatment. 

Project areas

Molecular tension sensor development

Genetically-encoded BRET tension sensor-

Our lab has developed a BRET-based protein tension sensor to characterize cellular tensions. Though this tool is closely modeled after similar, FRET-based systems, ours employs a bioluminescent donor for the NeonGreen acceptor as opposed to a second fluorescent protein. This overcomes problems like autofluorescence and has an enhanced dynamic range. We're always looking for ways to improve upon this system as well as for new research questions we can pursue with it. 

DNA based tension sensors-

A newer endeavor of the Gordon lab is to develop DNA-based extracellular tension sensors that enable high-throughput characterization of a whole host of cellular forces. Read about our recent developments in this area in our Nature Communications paper!

Molecular tension sensor application

Our lab has, and continually aims to, apply the tension sensing tools and systems that we develop in answering complex biological questions. Recently published and ongoing investigations include characterizing cellular forces in dystrophic muscle cells, gauging perturbations in cancer cells with disrupted dystrophin glycoprotein complexes, and harnessing Notch tension in stem cells for targeted differentiation -- among many others.


Current: Matt Pawlak, Marcus Kelly, Andrew Lemmex, Michael Anderson, and Lidia Limón-Swanson

Alumni: Dr. Eric Aird, Dr. Kassidy Tompkins, Dr. Amanda Hayward, Dr. Maria Paz-Ramírez