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Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2017 Feb;44:1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ceb.2016.11.001. Epub 2016 Dec 6.

Hydraulic fracturing in cells and tissues: fracking meets cell biology.

Author information

1
Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-BarcelonaTech, Spain. Electronic address: marino.arroyo@upc.edu.
2
Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain; Unitat de Biofísica i Bioenginyeria, Facultat de Medicina, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain; Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA), Barcelona, Spain; Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red en Bioingeniería, Biomateriales y Nanomedicina, 28029 Madrid, Spain. Electronic address: xtrepat@ibecbarcelona.eu.

Abstract

The animal body is largely made of water. A small fraction of body water is freely flowing in blood and lymph, but most of it is trapped in hydrogels such as the extracellular matrix (ECM), the cytoskeleton, and chromatin. Besides providing a medium for biological molecules to diffuse, water trapped in hydrogels plays a fundamental mechanical role. This role is well captured by the theory of poroelasticity, which explains how any deformation applied to a hydrogel causes pressure gradients and water flows, much like compressing a sponge squeezes water out of it. Here we review recent evidence that poroelastic pressures and flows can fracture essential biological barriers such as the nuclear envelope, the cellular cortex, and epithelial layers. This type of fracture is known in engineering literature as hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking'.

PMID:
27936415
DOI:
10.1016/j.ceb.2016.11.001
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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