Kayla Wolf (email): is a postdoctoral fellow in bioengineering at Harvard University, where she is using biofabrication to engineer functional 3D tissues. She is currently investigating how microenvironmental cues affect kidney organoid assembly, structure, and function. Kayla received her PhD in Bioengineering from the joint program at University of California, Berkeley - University of California, San Francisco. There, she studied how tumor cell-matrix interactions influence tumor invasion and could therefore be leveraged as therapeutic targets. To accelerate this work, Kayla engineered tissue models that recapitulate biophysical properties of the brain and can be used for discovery, screening, and hypothesis testing. Kayla is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Predoctoral Fellow (F31), and Siebel Fellow. Prior to her PhD, Kayla earned a B.S. in Chemistry and a B.S. in Human Biology from Michigan State University.

Talk details: A mode of cell adhesion and migration facilitated by CD44-dependent microtentacles
Interactions between cells and the extracellular matrix play a critical role in development, wound healing, and disease. In this talk, I will describe a mechanism used by tumor cells to adhere to and migrate through a nanoporous, three-dimensional extracellular matrix characteristic of brain tissue. In this mechanism, cells engage hyaluronic acid, a key component within brain matrix, by assembling CD44-dependent "microtentacles", which can extend tens of microns from the cell body and may represent an important therapeutic target.