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Cell reorientation on a cyclically strained substrate.

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Das, Shuvrangsu 
Ippolito, Alberto 
McGarry, Patrick 
Deshpande, Vikram S 


Cyclic strain avoidance, the phenomenon of cell and cytoskeleton alignment perpendicular to the direction of cyclic strain of the underlying 2D substrate, is an important characteristic of the adherent cell organization. This alignment has typically been attributed to the stress-fiber reorganization although observations clearly show that stress-fiber reorganization under cyclic loading is closely coupled to cell morphology and reorientation of the cells. Here, we develop a statistical mechanics framework that couples the cytoskeletal stress-fiber organization with cell morphology under imposed cyclic straining and make quantitative comparisons with observations. The framework accurately predicts that cyclic strain avoidance stems primarily from cell reorientation away from the cyclic straining rather than cytoskeletal reorganization within the cell. The reorientation of the cell is a consequence of the cell lowering its free energy by largely avoiding the imposed cyclic straining. Furthermore, we investigate the kinetics of the cyclic strain avoidance mechanism and demonstrate that it emerges primarily due to the rigid body rotation of the cell rather than via a trajectory involving cell straining. Our results provide clear physical insights into the coupled dynamics of cell morphology and stress-fibers, which ultimately leads to cellular organization in cyclically strained tissues.



cyclic strain avoidance, fluctuations, homeostasis, stress-fiber alignment

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PNAS Nexus

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Oxford University Press (OUP)
Science Foundation Ireland (18/ERCD/5481)