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Issue 21, 2013
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Polymorphism and bistability in adherent cells

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The optimal shapes attained by contractile cells on adhesive substrates are determined by the interplay between intracellular forces and adhesion with the extracellular matrix. We model the cell as a contractile film bounded by an elastic cortex and connected to the substrate via elastic links. When the adhesion sites are continuously distributed, optimal cell shape is constrained by the adhesion geometry, with a spread area sensitively dependent on the substrate stiffness and contractile tension. For discrete adhesion sites, the equilibrium cell shape is convex at weak contractility, while developing local concavities at intermediate values of contractility. Increasing contractility beyond a critical value, controlled by mechanical and geometrical properties of adhesion, the cell boundary undergoes a discontinuous transition to a star-shaped configuration with cusps and protrusions, accompanied by a region of bistability and hysteresis.

Graphical abstract: Polymorphism and bistability in adherent cells

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Publication details

The article was received on 05 Dec 2012, accepted on 10 Apr 2013 and first published on 26 Apr 2013

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C3SM27791G
Citation: Soft Matter, 2013,9, 5251-5260

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    Polymorphism and bistability in adherent cells

    S. Banerjee and L. Giomi, Soft Matter, 2013, 9, 5251
    DOI: 10.1039/C3SM27791G

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