Coupling biochemistry and mechanics in cell adhesion: a model for inhomogeneous stress fiber contraction
Authors: Besser A, Schwarz US
CellNetworks People: Schwarz Ulrich
Journal: New J. Phys. 2007, 9 425

Part of Focus on Physics of the Cytoskeleton

Biochemistry and mechanics are closely coupled in cell adhesion. At sites of cell-matrix adhesion, mechanical force triggers signaling through the Rho-pathway, which leads to structural reinforcement and increased contractility in the actin cytoskeleton. The resulting force acts back to the sites of adhesion, resulting in a positive feedback loop for mature adhesion. Here, we model this biochemical–mechanical feedback loop for the special case when the actin cytoskeleton is organized in stress fibers, which are contractile bundles of actin filaments. Activation of myosin II molecular motors through the Rho-pathway is described by a system of reaction–diffusion equations, which are coupled into a viscoelastic model for a contractile actin bundle. We find strong spatial gradients in the activation of contractility and in the corresponding deformation pattern of the stress fiber, in good agreement with experimental findings.