Issue 2, 2016

Contribution of myosin II activity to cell spreading dynamics


Myosin II activity and actin polymerization at the leading edge of the cell are known to be essential sources of cellular stress. However, a quantitative account of their separate contributions is still lacking; so is the influence of the coupling between the two phenomena on cell spreading dynamics. We present a simple analytic elastic theory of cell spreading dynamics that quantitatively demonstrates how actin polymerization and myosin activity cooperate in the generation of cellular stress during spreading. Consistent with experiments, myosin activity is assumed to polarize in response to the stresses generated during spreading. The characteristic response time and the overall spreading time are predicted to determine different evolution profiles of cell spreading dynamics. These include, a (regular) monotonic increase of cell projected area with time, a non-monotonic (overshooting) profile with a maximum, and damped oscillatory modes. In addition, two populations of myosin II motors are distinguished based on their location in the lamella; those located above the major adhesion zone at the cell periphery are shown to facilitate spreading whereas those in deeper regions of the lamella are shown to oppose spreading. We demonstrate that the attenuation of myosin activity in the two regions may result in reciprocal effects on spreading. These findings provide important new insight into the function of myosin II motors in the course of spreading.

Graphical abstract: Contribution of myosin II activity to cell spreading dynamics

Supplementary files

Article information

Article type
14 Jul 2015
05 Oct 2015
First published
20 Oct 2015
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Soft Matter, 2016,12, 500-507

Contribution of myosin II activity to cell spreading dynamics

N. Nisenholz, A. Paknikar, S. Köster and A. Zemel, Soft Matter, 2016, 12, 500 DOI: 10.1039/C5SM01733E

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence. You can use material from this article in other publications without requesting further permissions from the RSC, provided that the correct acknowledgement is given.

Read more about how to correctly acknowledge RSC content.

Social activity