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Nucleus. 2018 Jan 1;9(1):119-124. doi: 10.1080/19491034.2017.1414118. Epub 2017 Dec 28.

Separate roles for chromatin and lamins in nuclear mechanics.

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a Department of Molecular Biosciences , Northwestern University , Evanston , Illinois , USA.
b Department of Physics and Astronomy , Northwestern University , Evanston , Illinois , USA.
c Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology , Cambridge , Massachusetts.


The cell nucleus houses, protects, and arranges the genome within the cell. Therefore, nuclear mechanics and morphology are important for dictating gene regulation, and these properties are perturbed in many human diseases, such as cancers and progerias. The field of nuclear mechanics has long been dominated by studies of the nuclear lamina, the intermediate filament shell residing just beneath the nuclear membrane. However, a growing body of work shows that chromatin and chromatin-related factors within the nucleus are an essential part of the mechanical response of the cell nucleus to forces. Recently, our group demonstrated that chromatin and the lamina provide distinct mechanical contributions to nuclear mechanical response. The lamina is indeed important for robust response to large, whole-nucleus stresses, but chromatin dominates the short-extension response. These findings offer a clarifying perspective on varied nuclear mechanics measurements and observations, and they suggest several new exciting possibilities for understanding nuclear morphology, organization, and mechanics.


chromatin; force; lamin; micromanipulation; nucleus

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