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Biophys J. 2011 Jun 8;100(11):2706-15. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2011.04.050.

Striated acto-myosin fibers can reorganize and register in response to elastic interactions with the matrix.

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Department of Materials and Interfaces, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.


The remarkable striation of muscle has fascinated many for centuries. In developing muscle cells, as well as in many adherent, nonmuscle cell types, striated, stress fiberlike structures with sarcomere-periodicity tend to register: Based on several studies, neighboring, parallel fibers at the basal membrane of cultured cells establish registry of their respective periodic sarcomeric architecture, but, to our knowledge, the mechanism has not yet been identified. Here, we propose for cells plated on an elastic substrate or adhered to a neighboring cell, that acto-myosin contractility in striated fibers close to the basal membrane induces substrate strain that gives rise to an elastic interaction between neighboring striated fibers, which in turn favors interfiber registry. Our physical theory predicts a dependence of interfiber registry on externally controllable elastic properties of the substrate. In developing muscle cells, registry of striated fibers (premyofibrils and nascent myofibrils) has been suggested as one major pathway of myofibrillogenesis, where it precedes the fusion of neighboring fibers. This suggests a mechanical basis for the optimal myofibrillogenesis on muscle-mimetic elastic substrates that was recently observed by several groups in cultures of mouse-, human-, and chick-derived muscle cells.

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