Joachim P. Spatz, Ph.D., Habil.
Director, Max Planck Institute for Metals Research, Stuttgart, Germany
The primary aim of the research in my group is to understand the dynamic regulation of adhesive contacts and of the cytoskeleton architecture of cells and its resultant influence on cellular activities. In this context, we apply new optical and mechanical techniques and use novel micro- and nanostructured materials to perform adhesion and viscoelastic experiments on living cells. Our research activities can be summarized under three main headings: adhesion studies using biomimetic nanostructured surfaces, mechanical properties of cells, and development of novel materials and techniques.
Cell Adhesion Studies Using Biomimetic Surfaces
Using a unique method of nanolithography based on self-assembly of diblock copolymer micelles, we are able to produce surfaces that are patterned with gold nanodots of monodisperse diameter 1-10 nm, where the interdot spacing can be varied between about 15 and 250 nm. By combining this block copolymer micelle nanolithography with traditional methods such as electron beam lithography and photolithography, surfaces bearing a wide variety of patterns of gold dots can be produced. Due to the small size of the dots, they can be functionalized with biological ligands in such a manner that only one cell surface receptor protein can bind to each dot. This enables us to observe the effect on cell behaviour of the spatial distribution of ligands. For example, the movies show that human fibroblasts adhere to glass surfaces patterned with gold dots that are functionalized with integrin-binding peptides where the spacing between adjacent dots, and thus between ligated integrins, is 58 nm (movie-58nm), but not where the spacing is increased to 73 nm (movie-73nm), indicating that clustering of ligated integrin molecules is required for focal adhesion formation (figure 1).
Our nanopatterns can be produced on a variety of surfaces, including glass surfaces and poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogels, enabling the effects of substrate elastic modulus on cell behaviour to be tested in cooperation with the effects of ligand spatial distribution.
Mechanical Properties of Cells
Biomimetic Protein Networks: Development of Novel Materials and Techniques
Background and Education
Joachim Spatz received his physics diploma from the University of Ulm in 1994, and a Ph.D. in physics (Dr. rer. Nat.) under the supervision of Martin Möller from the University of Ulm in 1996. In 1997, he continued as a postdoctoral fellow with Martin Möller. He was a postdoctoral fellow with Jacques Prost and Albrecht Ott at Institut Curie, Paris, in 1998. He was a group leader at the University of Ulm in 1999 and 2000. In 2000 he received the habilitation in physics from the University of Ulm. In October 2000, he joined the University of Heidelberg as associated professor (C3) for biophysical chemistry. In September 2004, he was appointed scientific member of the Max Planck Society and director at the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research, Stuttgart, as well as full professor (C4) for biophysical chemistry at the University of Heidelberg. Since 2004 he has been an adjunct senior faculty member of the Jackson Laboratory, Maine.
Honors and Awards
Walter N, Selhuber C, Kessler H, Spatz JP.
Calvacanti-Adam EA; Micoulet A, Blümmel J, Auernheimer J, Kessler H, Spatz JP.
Roos W, Ulmer J, Graeter S, Surrey T, Spatz JP.
Micoulet A, Spatz JP, Ott A.
Curtis JE, Schmitz CHJ, Spatz JP.
Schmitz, CHJ, Spatz, JP, Curtis, JE.
Glass R, Arnold M, Cavalcanti-Adam EA, Blummel J, Haferkemper C, Dodd C, Spatz JP.