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Ryan Petrie, PhD

Ryan Petrie, PhD

Associate Professor
Director, Biology Graduate Program
Department of Biology
Office: PISB 419
3245 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Phone: 215.895.1476
Lab Phone: 215.895.2626


  • PhD, Cell Biology, McGill University, 2008
  • MS, Immunology, University of Calgary, 2002
  • BS, Biochemistry, University of Victoria, 1997

Curriculum Vitae:

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Research Interests:

  • Extracellular matrix
  • Cell motility
  • Cytoskeleton
  • Mechanotransduction
  • Cell-matrix interactions
  • Cell biology
  • Intracellular signaling


Ryan Petrie, PhD, received a BS in biochemistry from the University of Victoria in 1997, a MS in immune cell signaling from the University of Calgary in 2002, and a PhD in cell biology from McGill University in 2008. Following a research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), he opened his lab at Drexel in 2015. At the NIH, Petrie used a combination of live cell imaging and biophysical measurements in single cells to discover a new pressure-based mechanism of cell movement. His lab continues to refine this nuclear-piston model of pressure-driven cell migration in the Department of Biology.

Even when we are standing still, the cells in our bodies are going places. It is now clear that an individual cell can change how it moves in response to the material surrounding it. My lab is interested in understanding how the structure of the three-dimensional (3D) extracellular matrix dictates the molecular and physical mechanisms driving cell motility. For example, we discovered human fibroblasts moving through a cross-linked 3D matrix pull their nucleus forward like a piston to increase intracellular pressure and drive protrusion of the leading edge.

Using a variety of biochemical, biophysical, and live cell imaging approaches, the Petrie lab aims to understand how intracellular pressure is controlled by actomyosin contractility in migrating cells in response to matrix structure. Further, we seek to establish if the intracellular pressure generation machinery in metastatic cells is abnormal compared to primary fibroblasts and test the hypothesis that defective pressure regulation promotes cancer cell invasion into 3D extracellular matrix.

Selected Publications:

  • Marks, PC, Hewitt, BR, Baird, MA, Wiche, G, and Petrie, RJ. Plectin linkages are mechanosensitive and required for the nuclear piston mechanism of 3D cell migration. 2022. Mol. Biol. Cell. 10.1091/mbc.E21-08-0414. Online ahead of print.
  • Petrie, RJ. Visualizing cell motility in mouse ear explants. 2022. Curr. Protoc. 2(5):e434. doi: 10.1002/cpz1.434.
  • Marks, PC and Petrie, RJ. Push or pull: how cytoskeletal crosstalk facilitates nuclear movement through 3D environments. 2022. Phys. Biol. 19(2): 10.1088/1478-3975/ac45e3.
  • Jones, TM, Marks, PC, Cowan, JM, Kainth, DK, and Petrie, RJ. Cytoplasmic pressure maintains epithelial integrity and inhibits cell motility. 2021. Phys. Biol. 18(6): 10.1088/1478-3975/ac267a.
  • Robertson, T, Chengappa, P, Atria, DG, Wu, C, Avery, L, Roy, N, Maillard, I, Petrie, RJ, and Burkhardt, J. Lymphocyte Egress Signal Sphingosine-1-Phosphate Promotes ERM-Guided, Bleb- Based Migration. 2021. J. Cell Biol. 220(6):e202007182.
  • Patel, S, McKeon, D, Sao, K, Yang, C, Naranjo, NM, Svitkina, TM, and Petrie, RJ. Myosin II and Arp2/3 crosstalk governs intracellular hydraulic pressure and lamellipodia formation. 2021. Mol. Biol. Cell 32:579-589.
  • Witherel, CE, Sao, K, Brisson, BK, Han, B, Volk, SW, Petrie, RJ, Han, L, and Spiller KL. Regulation of extracellular matrix assembly and structure by hybrid M1/M2 macrophages. 2021. Biomaterials. 269: 120667.
  • Lomakin, AJ, Cattin, CJ, Cuveliler, D, Alraies, Z, Molina, M, Nader, GPF, Srivastava, N, Saez, PJ, Garcia-Arcos, JM, Zhitnyak, IY, Bhargava, A, Driscoll, MK, Welf, ES, Fiolka, R, Petrie, RJ, De Silva, NS, Gonzalez-Granado, JM, Manel, N, Lennon-Dumenil, AM, Muller, DJ, and Piel, M. The nucleus acts as a ruler tailoring cell responses to spatial constraints. 2020, Science 370:eaba2894.
  • Ishikawa, M, Williams, G, Forcinito, P, Ishikawa, M, Petrie, RJ, Saito, K, Fukumoto, S, and Yamada, Y. Pannexin 3 ER Ca2+ channel gating is regulated by phosphorylation at the Serine 68 residue in osteoblast differentiation. 2019. Sci. Rep. 9:18759.
  • Perez-Gonzalez, NA, Rochman, ND, Yao, K, Tao, J, Le, MT, Flanary, S, Sablich, L, Toler, B, Crentsil, E, Takaesu, F, Lambrus, B, Huang, J, Fu, V, Chengappa, P, Jones. TM, Holland, AJ, An, S, Wirtz, D, Petrie, RJ, Guan, KL and Sun, SX. YAP and TAZ regulate cell volume. 2019. J. Cell Biol. 218:3472-3488.
  • Chan, CJ, Costanzo, M, Ruiz-Herrero, T, Mönke, G, Petrie, RJ, Bergert, M, Diz-Muñoz, A, Mahadevan, L, and Hiiragi, T. 2019. Hydraulic control of mammalian embryo size and cell fate. Nature 571:112-116.
  • Sao, K, Jones, TM, Doyle, AD, Maity, D, Schevzov, G, Chen, Y, Gunning, PW and Petrie, RJ. 2019. Myosin II governs intracellular pressure and traction by distinct tropomyosin-dependent mechanisms. Mol. Biol. Cell 30:1170-1181.
  • Chengappa, P, Sao, K, Jones, TM, and Petrie, RJ. 2017. Intracellular pressure: a driver of cell morphology and movement. Int. Rev. Cell Mol. Biol. 337:185-211.
  • Petrie, RJ, Harlin, HM, Korsak, LT, and Yamada, KM. 2017. Activating the nuclear piston mechanism to generate intracellular pressure during tumor cell 3D migration. J. Cell Biol. 216: 93-100.
  • Petrie, RJ and Yamada, KM. 2016. Multiple mechanisms of 3D migration: the origins of plasticity. Curr. Opin. Cell Biol. 42: 7-12.