Jump to main content
Jump to site search
PLANNED MAINTENANCE Close the message box

There will be scheduled maintenance work beginning on Saturday 15th June 2019 at 8:30 am through to Sunday 16th June 2019 at 11:30 pm (BST).

During this time our website may be temporarily affected. We apologise for any inconvenience this might cause and thank you for your patience.


Issue 23, 2015
Previous Article Next Article

Imaging viscoelastic properties of live cells by AFM: power-law rheology on the nanoscale

Author affiliations

Abstract

We developed force clamp force mapping (FCFM), an atomic force microscopy (AFM) technique for measuring the viscoelastic creep behavior of live cells with sub-micrometer spatial resolution. FCFM combines force–distance curves with an added force clamp phase during tip-sample contact. From the creep behavior measured during the force clamp phase, quantitative viscoelastic sample properties are extracted. We validate FCFM on soft polyacrylamide gels. We find that the creep behavior of living cells conforms to a power-law material model. By recording short (50–60 ms) force clamp measurements in rapid succession, we generate, for the first time, two-dimensional maps of power-law exponent and modulus scaling parameter. Although these maps reveal large spatial variations of both parameters across the cell surface, we obtain robust mean values from the several hundreds of measurements performed on each cell. Measurements on mouse embryonic fibroblasts show that the mean power-law exponents and the mean modulus scaling parameters differ greatly among individual cells, but both parameters are highly correlated: stiffer cells consistently show a smaller power-law exponent. This correlation allows us to distinguish between wild-type cells and cells that lack vinculin, a dominant protein of the focal adhesion complex, even though the mean values of viscoelastic properties between wildtype and knockout cells did not differ significantly. Therefore, FCFM spatially resolves viscoelastic sample properties and can uncover subtle mechanical signatures of proteins in living cells.

Graphical abstract: Imaging viscoelastic properties of live cells by AFM: power-law rheology on the nanoscale

Back to tab navigation

Supplementary files

Publication details

The article was received on 08 Dec 2014, accepted on 10 Apr 2015 and first published on 10 Apr 2015


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C4SM02718C
Soft Matter, 2015,11, 4584-4591
  • Open access: Creative Commons BY license
  •   Request permissions

    Imaging viscoelastic properties of live cells by AFM: power-law rheology on the nanoscale

    F. M. Hecht, J. Rheinlaender, N. Schierbaum, W. H. Goldmann, B. Fabry and T. E. Schäffer, Soft Matter, 2015, 11, 4584
    DOI: 10.1039/C4SM02718C

    This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence. Material from this article can be used in other publications provided that the correct acknowledgement is given with the reproduced material.

    Reproduced material should be attributed as follows:

    • For reproduction of material from NJC:
      [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on behalf of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the RSC.
    • For reproduction of material from PCCP:
      [Original citation] - Published by the PCCP Owner Societies.
    • For reproduction of material from PPS:
      [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on behalf of the European Society for Photobiology, the European Photochemistry Association, and RSC.
    • For reproduction of material from all other RSC journals:
      [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry.

    Information about reproducing material from RSC articles with different licences is available on our Permission Requests page.

Search articles by author

Spotlight

Advertisements