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Phys Rev Lett. 2005 Mar 11;94(9):098103. Epub 2005 Mar 11.

Optical rheology of biological cells.

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Institute for Soft Matter Physics, University of Leipzig, Linnéstrasse 5, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.


A step stress deforming suspended cells causes a passive relaxation, due to a transiently cross-linked isotropic actin cortex underlying the cellular membrane. The fluid-to-solid transition occurs at a relaxation time coinciding with unbinding times of actin cross-linking proteins. Elastic contributions from slowly relaxing entangled filaments are negligible. The symmetric geometry of suspended cells ensures minimal statistical variability in their viscoelastic properties in contrast with adherent cells and thus is defining for different cell types. Mechanical stimuli on time scales of minutes trigger active structural responses.

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