Jump to main content
Jump to site search
Access to RSC content Close the message box

Continue to access RSC content when you are not at your institution. Follow our step-by-step guide.

Issue 3, 2017
Previous Article Next Article

Rapid dynamics of cell-shape recovery in response to local deformations

Author affiliations


It is vital that cells respond rapidly to mechanical cues within their microenvironment through changes in cell shape and volume, which rely upon the mechanical properties of cells’ highly interconnected cytoskeletal networks and intracellular fluid redistributions. While previous research has largely investigated deformation mechanics, we now focus on the immediate cell-shape recovery response following mechanical perturbation by inducing large, local, and reproducible cellular deformations using AFM. By continuous imaging within the plane of deformation, we characterize the membrane and cortical response of HeLa cells to unloading, and model the recovery via overdamped viscoelastic dynamics. Importantly, the majority (90%) of HeLa cells recover their cell shape in <1 s. Despite actin remodelling on this time scale, we show that cell-shape recovery time is not affected by load duration, nor magnitude for untreated cells. To further explore this rapid recovery response, we expose cells to cytoskeletal destabilizers and osmotic shock conditions, which uncovers the interplay between actin and osmotic pressure. We show that the rapid dynamics of recovery depend crucially on intracellular pressure, and provide strong evidence that cortical actin is the key regulator in the cell-shape recovery processes, in both cancerous and non-cancerous epithelial cells.

Graphical abstract: Rapid dynamics of cell-shape recovery in response to local deformations

Back to tab navigation

Supplementary files

Article information

13 Nov 2016
30 Nov 2016
First published
01 Dec 2016

Soft Matter, 2017,13, 567-577
Article type

Rapid dynamics of cell-shape recovery in response to local deformations

K. Haase, T. N. Shendruk and A. E. Pelling, Soft Matter, 2017, 13, 567
DOI: 10.1039/C6SM02560A

Social activity

Search articles by author