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Biophys J. 1996 Jul;71(1):109-18.

Theoretical estimates of mechanical properties of the endothelial cell cytoskeleton.

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Fluid Mechanics Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139, USA.


Current modeling of endothelial cell mechanics does not account for the network of F-actin that permeates the cytoplasm. This network, the distributed cytoplasmic structural actin (DCSA), extends from apical to basal membranes, with frequent attachments. Stress fibers are intercalated within the network, with similar frequent attachments. The microscopic structure of the DCSA resembles a foam, so that the mechanical properties can be estimated with analogy to these well-studied systems. The moduli of shear and elastic deformations are estimated to be on the order of 10(5) dynes/cm2. This prediction agrees with experimental measurements of the properties of cytoplasm and endothelial cells reported elsewhere. Stress fibers can potentially increase the modulus by a factor of 2-10, depending on whether they act in series or parallel to the network in transmitting surface forces. The deformations produced by physiological flow fields are of insufficient magnitude to disrupt cell-to-cell or DCSA cross-linkages. The questions raised by this paradox, and the ramifications of implicating the previously unreported DCSA as the primary force transmission element are discussed.

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