Honors & Awards

  • AHA Postdoctoral Fellowship, American Heart Association (2016-2018)
  • CVI Postdoctoral Fellow Award, Stanford Cardiovascular Institute (2015-2016)
  • Stanford ChEM-H Postdocs at the Interface Award, Stanford ChEM-H (2015-2016)
  • Lucile Packard CHRI Postdoctoral Fellow, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital - Stanford CHRI (2014-2015)
  • William Bowes Jr. Stanford Graduate Fellow, Stanford University (2010-2013)
  • Tau Beta Pi Fellow, Stanford University (2008-2009)
  • Outstanding Graduate Award, Polytechnic University (2008)
  • Summa Cum Laude, Polytechnic University (2008)
  • Tau Beta Pi Stabile Scholar, Polytechnic University (2007-2008)
  • Winner - AIChE National Conference Poster Competition, Polytechnic University (2007)
  • DAAD RISE Fellow, Martin Luther University, Halle (2006)

Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Stanford University, CHEME-PHD (2013)
  • Master of Science, Polytechnic University, Chemical and Bio Engineering (2008)
  • Bachelor of Science, Polytechnic University, Chemical and Bio Engineering (2008)

Lab Affiliations

All Publications

  • A cytoskeletal clutch mediates cellular force transmission in a soft, 3D extracellular matrix. Molecular biology of the cell Owen, L. M., Adhikari, A. S., Patel, M., Grimmer, P., Leijnse, N., Kim, M. C., Notbohm, J., Franck, C., Dunn, A. R. 2017


    The ability of cells to impart forces and deformations on their surroundings underlies cell migration and extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling, and is thus an essential aspect of complex, metazoan life. Previous work has resulted in a refined understanding, commonly termed the molecular clutch model, of how cells adhering to flat surfaces such as a microscope coverslip transmit cytoskeletally generated forces to their surroundings. Comparatively less is known about how cells adhere to and exert forces in soft, three-dimensional, and structurally heterogeneous ECM environments such as occur in vivo We used timelapse 3D imaging and quantitative image analysis to determine how the actin cytoskeleton was mechanically coupled to the surrounding matrix for primary dermal fibroblasts embedded in a 3D fibrin matrix. Under these circumstances the cytoskeletal architecture was dominated by contractile actin bundles attached at their ends to large, stable integrin-based adhesions. Time-lapse imaging revealed that α-actinin-1 puncta within actomyosin bundles moved more quickly than the paxillin-rich adhesion plaques, which in turn moved more quickly than the local matrix, an observation reminiscent of the molecular clutch model. However, closer examination did not reveal a continuous rearward flow of the actin cytoskeleton over slower moving adhesions. Instead, we found that a subset of stress fibers continuously elongated at their attachment points to integrin adhesions, providing stable yet structurally dynamic coupling to the ECM. Analytical modeling and numerical simulation provide a plausible physical explanation for this result, and support a picture in which cells respond to the effective stiffness of the local matrix attachment points. The resulting dynamic equilibrium can explain how cells maintain stable, contractile connections to discrete points within ECM during cell migration, and provides a plausible means by which fibroblasts contract provisional matrices during wound healing.

    View details for DOI 10.1091/mbc.E17-02-0102

    View details for PubMedID 28592635

  • Early-Onset Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Mutations Significantly Increase the Velocity, Force, and Actin-Activated ATPase Activity of Human beta-Cardiac Myosin CELL REPORTS Adhikari, A. S., Kooiker, K. B., Sarkar, S. S., Liu, C., Bernstein, D., Spudich, J. A., Ruppel, K. M. 2016; 17 (11): 2857-2864


    Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a heritable cardiovascular disorder that affects 1 in 500 people. A significant percentage of HCM is attributed to mutations in β-cardiac myosin, the motor protein that powers ventricular contraction. This study reports how two early-onset HCM mutations, D239N and H251N, affect the molecular biomechanics of human β-cardiac myosin. We observed significant increases (20%-90%) in actin gliding velocity, intrinsic force, and ATPase activity in comparison to wild-type myosin. Moreover, for H251N, we found significantly lower binding affinity between the S1 and S2 domains of myosin, suggesting that this mutation may further increase hyper-contractility by releasing active motors. Unlike previous HCM mutations studied at the molecular level using human β-cardiac myosin, early-onset HCM mutations lead to significantly larger changes in the fundamental biomechanical parameters and show clear hyper-contractility.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.11.040

    View details for Web of Science ID 000390894700007

    View details for PubMedID 27974200

  • Molecular Tension Sensors Report Forces Generated by Single Integrin Molecules in Living Cells Nano Letters Morimatsu M, Mekhdjian AH, Adhikari AS, Dunn AR 2013
  • Mechanical Load Induces a 100-Fold Increase in the Rate of Collagen Proteolysis by MMP-1 JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY Adhikari, A. S., Chai, J., Dunn, A. R. 2011; 133 (6): 1686-1689


    Although mechanical stress is known to profoundly influence the composition and structure of the extracellular matrix (ECM), the mechanisms by which this regulation occurs remain poorly understood. We used a single-molecule magnetic tweezers assay to study the effect of force on collagen proteolysis by matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1). Here we show that the application of ∼10 pN in extensional force causes an ∼100-fold increase in proteolysis rates. Our results support a mechanistic model in which the collagen triple helix unwinds prior to proteolysis. The data and resulting model predict that biologically relevant forces may increase localized ECM proteolysis, suggesting a possible role for mechanical force in the regulation of ECM remodeling.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/ja109972p

    View details for Web of Science ID 000287831800020

    View details for PubMedID 21247159

  • The myosin mesa and the basis of hypercontractility caused by hypertrophic cardiomyopathy mutations. Nature structural & molecular biology Nag, S., Trivedi, D. V., Sarkar, S. S., Adhikari, A. S., Sunitha, M. S., Sutton, S., Ruppel, K. M., Spudich, J. A. 2017; 24 (6): 525-533


    Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is primarily caused by mutations in β-cardiac myosin and myosin-binding protein-C (MyBP-C). Changes in the contractile parameters of myosin measured so far do not explain the clinical hypercontractility caused by such mutations. We propose that hypercontractility is due to an increase in the number of myosin heads (S1) that are accessible for force production. In support of this hypothesis, we demonstrate myosin tail (S2)-dependent functional regulation of actin-activated human β-cardiac myosin ATPase. In addition, we show that both S2 and MyBP-C bind to S1 and that phosphorylation of either S1 or MyBP-C weakens these interactions. Importantly, the S1-S2 interaction is also weakened by four myosin HCM-causing mutations but not by two other mutations. To explain these experimental results, we propose a working structural model involving multiple interactions, including those with myosin's own S2 and MyBP-C, that hold myosin in a sequestered state.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nsmb.3408

    View details for PubMedID 28481356

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and the myosin mesa: viewing an old disease in a new light. Biophysical reviews Trivedi, D. V., Adhikari, A. S., Sarkar, S. S., Ruppel, K. M., Spudich, J. A. 2017


    The sarcomere is an exquisitely designed apparatus that is capable of generating force, which in the case of the heart results in the pumping of blood throughout the body. At the molecular level, an ATP-dependent interaction of myosin with actin drives the contraction and force generation of the sarcomere. Over the past six decades, work on muscle has yielded tremendous insights into the workings of the sarcomeric system. We now stand on the cusp where the acquired knowledge of how the sarcomere contracts and how that contraction is regulated can be extended to an understanding of the molecular mechanisms of sarcomeric diseases, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). In this review we present a picture that combines current knowledge of the myosin mesa, the sequestered state of myosin heads on the thick filament, known as the interacting-heads motif (IHM), their possible interaction with myosin binding protein C (MyBP-C) and how these interactions can be abrogated leading to hyper-contractility, a key clinical manifestation of HCM. We discuss the structural and functional basis of the IHM state of the myosin heads and identify HCM-causing mutations that can directly impact the equilibrium between the 'on state' of the myosin heads (the open state) and the IHM 'off state'. We also hypothesize a role of MyBP-C in helping to maintain myosin heads in the IHM state on the thick filament, allowing release in a graded manner upon adrenergic stimulation. By viewing clinical hyper-contractility as the result of the destabilization of the IHM state, our aim is to view an old disease in a new light.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s12551-017-0274-6

    View details for PubMedID 28717924

  • Effects of hypertrophic and dilated cardiomyopathy mutations on power output by human beta-cardiac myosin JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY Spudich, J. A., Aksel, T., Bartholomew, S. R., Nag, S., Kawana, M., Yu, E. C., Sarkar, S. S., Sung, J., Sommese, R. F., Sutton, S., Cho, C., Adhikari, A. S., Taylor, R., Liu, C., Trivedi, D., Ruppel, K. M. 2016; 219 (2): 161-167

    View details for DOI 10.1242/jeb.125930

    View details for Web of Science ID 000368546300006

  • Mechanical coordination in motor ensembles revealed using engineered artificial myosin filaments Nature Nanotechnology Hariadi, R. F., Sommese, R. F., Adhikari, A. S., Taylor, R. E., Sutton, S., Spudich, J. A., Sivaramakrishnan, S. 2015

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nnano.2015.132

  • Conformational Dynamics Accompanying the Proteolytic Degradation of Trimeric Collagen I by Collagenases JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY Adhikari, A. S., Glassey, E., Dunn, A. R. 2012; 134 (32): 13259-13265


    Collagenases are the principal enzymes responsible for the degradation of collagens during embryonic development, wound healing, and cancer metastasis. However, the mechanism by which these enzymes disrupt the highly chemically and structurally stable collagen triple helix remains incompletely understood. We used a single-molecule magnetic tweezers assay to characterize the cleavage of heterotrimeric collagen I by both the human collagenase matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1) and collagenase from Clostridium histolyticum. We observe that the application of 16 pN of force causes an 8-fold increase in collagen proteolysis rates by MMP-1 but does not affect cleavage rates by Clostridium collagenase. Quantitative analysis of these data allows us to infer the structural changes in collagen associated with proteolytic cleavage by both enzymes. Our data support a model in which MMP-1 cuts a transient, stretched conformation of its recognition site. In contrast, our findings suggest that Clostridium collagenase is able to cleave the fully wound collagen triple helix, accounting for its lack of force sensitivity and low sequence specificity. We observe that the cleavage of heterotrimeric collagen is less force sensitive than the proteolysis of a homotrimeric collagen model peptide, consistent with studies suggesting that the MMP-1 recognition site in heterotrimeric collagen I is partially unwound at equilibrium.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/ja212170b

    View details for Web of Science ID 000307487200030

    View details for PubMedID 22720833

  • Strain Tunes Proteolytic Degradation and Diffusive Transport in Fibrin Networks BIOMACROMOLECULES Adhikari, A. S., Mekhdjian, A. H., Dunn, A. R. 2012; 13 (2): 499-506


    Proteolytic degradation of fibrin, the major structural component in blood clots, is critical both during normal wound healing and in the treatment of ischemic stroke and myocardial infarction. Fibrin-containing clots experience substantial strain due to platelet contraction, fluid shear, and mechanical stress at the wound site. However, little is understood about how mechanical forces may influence fibrin dissolution. We used video microscopy to image strained fibrin clots as they were degraded by plasmin, a major fibrinolytic enzyme. Applied strain causes up to 10-fold reduction in the rate of fibrin degradation. Analysis of our data supports a quantitative model in which the decrease in fibrin proteolysis rates with strain stems from slower transport of plasmin into the clot. We performed fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) measurements to further probe the effect of strain on diffusive transport. We find that diffusivity perpendicular to the strain axis decreases with increasing strain, while diffusivity along the strain axis remains unchanged. Our results suggest that the properties of the fibrin network have evolved to protect mechanically loaded fibrin from degradation, consistent with its function in wound healing. The pronounced effect of strain upon diffusivity and proteolytic susceptibility within fibrin networks offers a potentially useful means of guiding cell growth and morphology in fibrin-based biomaterials.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/bm2015619

    View details for Web of Science ID 000300115900025

    View details for PubMedID 22185486

  • Multiplexed single-molecule force proteolysis measurements using magnetic tweezers. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE Adhikari, A. S., Chai, J., Dunn, A. R. 2012


    The generation and detection of mechanical forces is a ubiquitous aspect of cell physiology, with direct relevance to cancer metastasis(1), atherogenesis(2) and wound healing(3). In each of these examples, cells both exert force on their surroundings and simultaneously enzymatically remodel the extracellular matrix (ECM). The effect of forces on ECM has thus become an area of considerable interest due to its likely biological and medical importance(4-7). Single molecule techniques such as optical trapping(8), atomic force microscopy(9), and magnetic tweezers(10,11) allow researchers to probe the function of enzymes at a molecular level by exerting forces on individual proteins. Of these techniques, magnetic tweezers (MT) are notable for their low cost and high throughput. MT exert forces in the range of ~1-100 pN and can provide millisecond temporal resolution, qualities that are well matched to the study of enzyme mechanism at the single-molecule level(12). Here we report a highly parallelizable MT assay to study the effect of force on the proteolysis of single protein molecules. We present the specific example of the proteolysis of a trimeric collagen peptide by matrix metalloproteinase 1 (MMP-1); however, this assay can be easily adapted to study other substrates and proteases.

    View details for DOI 10.3791/3520

    View details for PubMedID 22871786

  • pH-Dependent Formation of Lipid Heterogeneities Controls Surface Topography and Binding Reactivity in Functionalized Bilayers LANGMUIR Kempegowda, G. B., Karve, S., Bandekar, A., Adhikari, A., Khaimchayev, T., Sofou, S. 2009; 25 (14): 8144-8151


    During direct cell-to-cell communication, lipids on the extracellular side of plasma membranes reorganize, and membrane-associated communication-related molecules colocalize. At colocalization sites, sometimes identified as rafts, the local cell surface topography and reactivity are altered. The processes regulating these changes are largely unknown. On model lipid membranes, study of simplified processes that control surface topography and reactivity may potentially contribute to the understanding and control of related cell functions and associated diseases. Integration of these processes on nanometer-sized lipid vesicles used as drug delivery carriers would precisely control their interactions with diseased cells minimizing toxicities. Here we design such basic pH-dependent processes on model functionalized lipid bilayers, and we demonstrate reversible sharp changes in binding reactivity within a narrow pH window. Cholesterol enables tuning of the membrane reorganization to occur at pH values not necessarily close to the reported pK(a)'s of the constituent titratable lipids, and bilayer reorganization over repeated cycles of induced pH changes exhibits hysteresis.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/la9004032

    View details for Web of Science ID 000268138400049

    View details for PubMedID 19594187