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.