Anisotropic mechanics and dynamics of a living mammalian cytoplasm
During physiological processes, cells can undergo morphological changes that can result in a significant redistribution of the cytoskeleton causing anisotropic behavior. Evidence of anisotropy in cells under mechanical stimuli exists; however, the role of cytoskeletal restructuring resulting from changes in cell shape in mechanical anisotropy and its effects remain unclear. In the present study, we examine the role of cell morphology in inducing anisotropy in both intracellular mechanics and dynamics. We change the aspect ratio of cells by confining the cell width and measuring the mechanical properties of the cytoplasm using optical tweezers in both the longitudinal and transverse directions to quantify the degree of mechanical anisotropy. These active microrheology measurements are then combined with intracellular movement to calculate the intracellular force spectrum using force spectrum microscopy (FSM), from which the degree of anisotropy in dynamics and force can be quantified. We find that unrestricted cells with aspect ratio (AR) ∼1 are isotropic; however, when cells break symmetry, they exhibit significant anisotropy in cytoplasmic mechanics and dynamics.