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Issue 8, 2019
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Combined atomic force microscopy (AFM) and traction force microscopy (TFM) reveals a correlation between viscoelastic material properties and contractile prestress of living cells

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Abstract

Living cells exhibit a complex mechanical behavior, whose underlying mechanisms are still largely unknown. Emerging from the molecular structure and dynamics of the cytoskeleton, the mechanical behavior comprises “passive” viscoelastic material properties and “active” contractile prestress. To directly investigate the connection between these quantities at the single-cell level, we here present the combination of atomic force microscopy (AFM) with traction force microscopy (TFM). With this combination, we simultaneously measure viscoelastic material parameters (stiffness, fluidity) and contractile prestress of adherent fibroblast and epithelial cells. Although stiffness, fluidity, and contractile prestress greatly vary within a cell population, they are highly correlated: stiffer cells have a lower fluidity and a larger prestress than softer cells. We show that viscoelastic material properties and contractile prestress are both governed by the activity of the actomyosin machinery. Our results underline the connection between a cell's viscoelastic material properties and its contractile prestress and their importance in cell mechanics.

Graphical abstract: Combined atomic force microscopy (AFM) and traction force microscopy (TFM) reveals a correlation between viscoelastic material properties and contractile prestress of living cells

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Publication details

The article was received on 02 Aug 2018, accepted on 02 Jan 2019 and first published on 15 Jan 2019


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8SM01585F
Citation: Soft Matter, 2019,15, 1721-1729

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    Combined atomic force microscopy (AFM) and traction force microscopy (TFM) reveals a correlation between viscoelastic material properties and contractile prestress of living cells

    N. Schierbaum, J. Rheinlaender and T. E. Schäffer, Soft Matter, 2019, 15, 1721
    DOI: 10.1039/C8SM01585F

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