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Presentation Time: 9:00-9:20
Home University: UNC-Chapel Hill
Research Mentor: Michael Falvo, Physics
Program: McNair
Research Title: Development of a Phagocytic Uptake Assay based on Actin Regulator Manipulation

Phagocytosis is an essential part of the immune system in which phagocytes engulf foreign bodies. Engulfment relies on force-dependent reorganization of a cell’s cytoskeleton which is primarily made up of actin. Actin undergoes a complicated orchestration whereby polymerizing and restructuring during uptake. There are many key contributors over the course of engulfment that play specific roles in actin polymerization. An assay was developed to influence polymerization in RAW Ftracin_Halo Macrophages. The phagocytes were supplied with 6um IgG-coated polystyrene beads and treated with 100nM Liposaccharide and 100nM Latrunculin A (LatA). Uptake ratio was defined as the number of active cells to the number of total cells. We hypothesized that LPS would increase uptake and Latrunculin A (LatA) would decrease uptake. The Fisher Exact Test along with comparative plots are presented to display variances. This assay can be built upon for force scaling experiments using Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM). AFM measurements can quantify forces through the stages of phagocytosis and the experimental design can benefit from the controls of this study. Understanding how actin regulators affect uptake gives insight into the different signaling pathways associated with phagocytosis. Disease states with respect to the immune system can be addressed with biomedical applications that affect cell engulfment.