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Hysteresis in the Cell Response to Time-Dependent Substrate Stiffness

Authors
Journal
Biophysical Journal
0006-3495
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
99
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2010.04.008
Keywords
  • Biophysical Letter
Disciplines
  • Chemistry
  • Physics

Abstract

Abstract Mechanical cues like the rigidity of the substrate are main determinants for the decision-making of adherent cells. Here we use a mechano-chemical model to predict the cellular response to varying substrate stiffnesses. The model equations combine the mechanics of contractile actin filament bundles with a model for the Rho-signaling pathway triggered by forces at cell-matrix contacts. A bifurcation analysis of cellular contractility as a function of substrate stiffness reveals a bistable response, thus defining a lower threshold of stiffness, below which cells are not able to build up contractile forces, and an upper threshold of stiffness, above which cells are always in a strongly contracted state. Using the full dynamical model, we predict that rate-dependent hysteresis will occur in the cellular traction forces when cells are exposed to substrates of time-dependent stiffness.

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