Apr 7, 2020

Loops versus lines and the compression stiffening of cells

Soft Matter
M C GandikotaJ M Schwarz

Abstract

Both animal and plant tissue exhibit a nonlinear rheological phenomenon known as compression stiffening, or an increase in moduli with increasing uniaxial compressive strain. Does such a phenomenon exist in single cells, which are the building blocks of tissues? One expects an individual cell to compression soften since the semiflexible biopolymer-based cytoskeletal network maintains the mechanical integrity of the cell and in vitro semiflexible biopolymer networks typically compression soften. To the contrary, we find that mouse embryonic fibroblasts (mEFs) compression stiffen under uniaxial compression via atomic force microscopy studies. To understand this finding, we uncover several potential mechanisms for compression stiffening. First, we study a single semiflexible polymer loop modeling the actomyosin cortex enclosing a viscous medium modeled as an incompressible fluid. Second, we study a two-dimensional semiflexible polymer/fiber network interspersed with area-conserving loops, which are a proxy for vesicles and fluid-based organelles. Third, we study two-dimensional fiber networks with angular-constraining crosslinks, i.e. semiflexible loops on the mesh scale. In the latter two cases, the loops act as geometric constra...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Research Study
Actomyosin Location
Biopolymers
Angular
Cell Line, Tumor
Study
Fiber
Generalized Stiffening
Microscopy, Atomic Force
Tissue Fiber

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