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PLoS Comput Biol. 2015 Mar 6;11(3):e1004076. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004076. eCollection 2015 Mar.

Model-based traction force microscopy reveals differential tension in cellular actin bundles.

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Institute for Theoretical Physics and BioQuant, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany.
Institute for Biophysical Dynamics, Department of Physics, and The James Franck Institute, University of Chicago, Chicago, United States of America.


Adherent cells use forces at the cell-substrate interface to sense and respond to the physical properties of their environment. These cell forces can be measured with traction force microscopy which inverts the equations of elasticity theory to calculate them from the deformations of soft polymer substrates. We introduce a new type of traction force microscopy that in contrast to traditional methods uses additional image data for cytoskeleton and adhesion structures and a biophysical model to improve the robustness of the inverse procedure and abolishes the need for regularization. We use this method to demonstrate that ventral stress fibers of U2OS-cells are typically under higher mechanical tension than dorsal stress fibers or transverse arcs.

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