The Effect of Cortical Elasticity and Active Tension on Cell Adhesion Mechanics.


MeBioS, KU Leuven, Heverlee, Belgium. Electronic address: [Email]


We consider a cell as an elastic, contractile shell surrounding a liquid incompressible cytoplasm and with nonspecific adhesion. We perform numerical simulations of this model to study the mechanics of cell-cell separation. By variation of parameters, we are able to recover well-known limits of the Johnson-Kendall-Roberts theory, the Derjaguin-Muller-Toporov model, adhesive vesicles with surface tension (Brochard-Wyart and de Gennes derivation), and thin elastic shells. We further locate biological cells on this parameter space by comparison to existing experiments on S180 cells. Using this model, we show that mechanical parameters can be obtained that are consistent with both dual pipette aspiration and micropipette aspiration, a problem not successfully tackled so far. We estimate a cortex elastic modulus of Ec ≈ 15 kPa, an effective cortex thickness of tc ≈ 0.3 μm, and an active tension of γ ≈ 0.4 nN/μm. With these parameters, a Johnson-Kendall-Roberts-like scaling of the separation force is recovered. Finally, the change of contact radius with applied force in a pull-off experiment was investigated. For small forces, a scaling similar to both the Brochard-Wyart and de Gennes derivation and the Derjaguin-Muller-Toporov model is found.

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