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J R Soc Interface. 2015 Jul 6;12(108):20150320. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2015.0320.

Microbuckling of fibrin provides a mechanism for cell mechanosensing.

Author information

1
Division of Engineering and Applied Science, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA jknotbohm@wisc.edu.
2
Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.
3
Department of Theoretical and Applied Mathematics, University of Crete, Heraklion 70013, Greece.
4
Division of Engineering and Applied Science, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.

Abstract

Biological cells sense and respond to mechanical forces, but how such a mechanosensing process takes place in a nonlinear inhomogeneous fibrous matrix remains unknown. We show that cells in a fibrous matrix induce deformation fields that propagate over a longer range than predicted by linear elasticity. Synthetic, linear elastic hydrogels used in many mechanotransduction studies fail to capture this effect. We develop a nonlinear microstructural finite-element model for a fibre network to simulate localized deformations induced by cells. The model captures measured cell-induced matrix displacements from experiments and identifies an important mechanism for long-range cell mechanosensing: loss of compression stiffness owing to microbuckling of individual fibres. We show evidence that cells sense each other through the formation of localized intercellular bands of tensile deformations caused by this mechanism.

KEYWORDS:

buckling; cell mechanics; fibrous matrix; three-dimensional traction force

PMID:
26040601
PMCID:
PMC4528600
DOI:
10.1098/rsif.2015.0320
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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