Tensegrity behaviour of cortical and cytosolic cytoskeletal components in twisted living adherent cells

Acta Biotheoretica 50 (4) (2002)
Abstract
The present study is an attempt to relate the multicomponent response of the cytoskeleton (CSK), evaluated in twisted living adherent cells, to the heterogeneity of the cytoskeletal structure - evaluated both experimentally by means of 3D reconstructions, and theoretically considering the predictions given by two tensegrity models composed of (four and six) compressive elements and (respectively 12 and 24) tensile elements. Using magnetic twisting cytometry in which beads are attached to integrin receptors linked to the actin CSK of living adherent epithelial cells, we specifically measured the elastic CSK response at quasi equilibrium state and partitioned this response in terms of cortical and cytosolic contributions with a two-component model (i.e., a series of two Voigt bodies). These two CSK components were found to be prestressed and exhibited a stress-hardening response which both characterize tensegrity behaviour with however significant differences: compared to the cytosolic component, the cortical cytoskeleton appears to be a faster responding component, being a less prestressed and easily deformable structure. The discrepancies in elastic behaviour between the cortical and cytosolic CSK components may be understood on the basis of prestress tensegrity model predictions, given that the length and number of constitutive actin elements are taken into account.
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