12-18 March 2023

Prof. Rui Travasso

Home Institution
Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal

Host Contact
Prof. Tiina Salminen

Host Institution
Faculty of Science and Engineering, Åbo Akademi, Turku, Finland

Aim of the mission
The structure of adhesive and cytoskeletal proteins affects cell dynamics and plays an important role in inflammation. Leukocytes in the blood express Siglec-9 on their surface, which regulates the cells’ adhesion to the blood vessel walls via their binding to the vascular adhesion protein-1 (VAP-1) that is expressed in the inflamed endothelium. This binding promotes the leukocytes’ translocation to the stroma, following inflammatory cues. In this STSM we have started the development of a computational model that describe the consequences for leukocyte dynamics of the structure and number of Siglec-9 molecules at the leukocyte membrane.

Summary of the Results
During the week I have discussed with Prof. Salminen group in detail how the structure of Siglec-9 influences leukocyte adhesion and developed a phase-field model of cell adhesion, advection and  deformation capable of quantitatively predict the shape of leukocytes and their tumbling inside a narrow capillary. The next steps will be to include the dynamics of leukocyte-endothelial cell VAP-1 mediated adhesion dynamics.

During my time in Turku I also presented our work in the “InFLAMES Immuno-engineering workshop” which allowed for the further contact with the research carried out at Åbo Akademy. After the day of
presentations, I did a second day with ono-on-one discussions to explore the possibility of collaborations. I identified a large overlap of interests with other groups at Åbo Akademi and, since I returned to Portugal, I involved my students in these collaborations.