Elizabeth S. Haswell, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Plant and Microbial Biosciences Program
Molecular Cell Biology Program
Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis Program

  • 314-935-9223

  • 314-935-9634

  • 1137

  • 249 McDonnell Hall

  • ehaswell@wustl.edu

  • http://pages.wustl.edu/haswell

  • https://twitter.com/ehaswell

  • mechanotransduction, mechanosensitive ion channels, molecular genetics, biosensor development

  • Mechanobiology with a focus on mechanosensitive ion channels

Research Abstract:

The perception of mechanical signals such as gravity, touch, vibration, and pressure is an ancient property, critical for growth, development, and health in all organisms. In humans, the proper regulation of bone strength, heart valve development, hearing, and blood volume are impacted by mechanical forces. Despite these basic and applied reasons for study, our understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms of mechanotransduction lags far behind that of the perception of molecules. While the field of mechanobiology is undergoing rapid growth, we remain one of only a handful of laboratories worldwide studying mechanoperception in plants.

This lack of knowledge is particularly acute in plant systems. In the Haswell Lab, we use any approach necessary to address fundamental questions in plant mechanobiology—molecular genetics, biochemistry, physiology, electrophysiology, live imaging, and mathematical modeling. We are currently studying the structure, function, regulation, and evolution of a family of mechanosensitive ion channels related to the bacterial channel MscS, using live-imaging, single-channel patch clamp electrophysiology, and complementary biochemical and molecular genetic approaches. We are also engaged in functional and genetic screens designed to identify novel mechanosensory proteins, and in the development of new tools for the non-invasive analysis of membrane forces in plants and select pathogens. These studies promise novel insight into the strategies used by both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells to sense mechanical stimuli.

Selected Publications:

Publications with Graduate Student Authors:

1. G. Maksaev, J. Shoots, S. Ohri and E. S. Haswell. (2018). Nonpolar Residues in the Presumptive Pore-Lining Helix of Mechanosensitive Channel MSL10 Influence Channel Behavior and Confirm its Non-Conducting Function. Plant Direct 2:1–13. https://doi.org/10.1002/pld3.59.

2. E. S. Hamilton & E. S. Haswell. (2017). The Tension-sensitive Ion Transport Activity of MSL8 is Critical for its Function in Pollen Hydration and Germination. Plant Cell and Physiology, 58:1222-1237. Preprint highlighted on The Node blog. Editor’s Choice and Author profile; also featured on the cover.

3. C. P. Lee, G. Maksaev, G. Jensen, M. Murcha, M. E. Wilson, M. Fricker, R. Hell, E. S. Haswell, A. H. Millar and L. Sweetlove. (2016). MSL1 is a mitochondrial mechanosensitive ion channel that dissipates membrane potential and maintains redox homeostasis in mitochondria during abiotic stress. Plant Journal 88:809-825.

4. M. E. Wilson, Matt Mixdorf, R. H. Berg and E. S. Haswell. (2016). Plastid Osmotic Shock Influences Dedifferentiation at the Plant Shoot Apex. Development 143: 3382-3393.

5. E. S. Hamilton, G. S. Jensen, G. Maksaev, A. Katims, A.M. Sherp and E. S. Haswell. (2015). Mechanosensitive Ion Channel MSL8 Regulates Osmotic Forces During Pollen Hydration and Germination. Science 350:438-441.

6. E. S. Hamilton, A. Schlegel, and E. S. Haswell. (2015). United in Diversity: Plant Mechanosensitive Channels. Annual Review of Plant Biology 66:113-137.

7. K. M. Veley, G. Maksaev, S. M. Kloepper, E. M. Frick, E. January and E. S. Haswell. (2014). MSL10 has a Regulated Cell Death Signaling Activity that is Separable from its Mechanosensitive Ion Channel Activity. Plant Cell 26:3115-31.

8. M.E. Wilson, G. Maksaev, and E. S. Haswell. (2013). MscS-like Mechanosensitive Ion Channels in Plants and Microbes. Biochemistry 52 (34): 5708–5722.

9. M. E. Wilson and E. S. Haswell. (2012). A Role for Mechanosensitive Channels in Chloroplast and Bacterial Fission. Plant Signaling & Behavior 7:157-60.

10. M. E. Wilson, G. S. Jensen, and E. S. Haswell. (2011). Two Mechanosensitive Channel Homologs Influence FtsZ Ring Placement in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 23: 2939-2949. Featured on the cover of the May/June 2013 issue.

Last Updated: 8/21/2018 9:41:15 AM

The mechanosensitive ion channels we study are gated directly by increased lateral membrane tension.
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