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Encapsulation of the cytoskeleton: towards mimicking the mechanics of a cell


The cytoskeleton of a cell controls all the aspects of cell shape changes and motility from its physiological functions for survival to reproduction to death. The structure and dynamics of the cytoskeletal components: actin, microtubules, intermediate filaments, and septins - recently regarded as the fourth member of the cytoskeleton family - are conserved during evolution. Such conserved and effective control over the mechanics of the cell makes the cytoskeletal components great candidates for in vitro reconstitution and bottom-up synthetic biology studies. Here, we review the recent efforts in reconstitution of the cytoskeleton in and on membrane-enclosed biomimetic systems and argue that co-reconstitution and synergistic interplay between cytoskeletal filaments might be indispensable for efficient mechanical functionality of active minimal cells. Further, mechanical equilibrium in adherent eukaryotic cells is achieved by the formation of integrin-based focal contacts with extracellular matrix (ECM) and the transmission of stresses generated by actomyosin contraction to ECM. Therefore, a minimal mimic of such balance of forces and quasi-static kinetics of the cell by bottom-up reconstitution requires a careful construction of contractile machineries and their link with adhesive contacts. In this review, in addition to cytoskeletal crosstalk, we provide a perspective on reconstruction of cell mechanical equilibrium by reconstitution of cortical actomyosin networks in lipid membrane vesicles adhered on compliant substrates and also discuss future perspective of this active research area.

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Publication details

The article was received on 17 Aug 2019, accepted on 10 Oct 2019 and first published on 11 Oct 2019

Article type: Review Article
DOI: 10.1039/C9SM01669D
Soft Matter, 2019, Accepted Manuscript

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    Encapsulation of the cytoskeleton: towards mimicking the mechanics of a cell

    Y. Bashirzadeh and A. Liu, Soft Matter, 2019, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/C9SM01669D

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