Rate of stress increase during cell spreading on substrates with different matrix rigidity

Daniel.Zitterbart [ at ] awi.de


For most cell types, adhesion, spreading and tension generation are crucial for cell survival. These processes are strongly influenced by the rigidity of the extracellular matrix: Cells spread more and faster, and generate higher tension on more rigid substrates. We report simulta- neous measurements of cell spreading and traction generation during adhesion of MDA-MB-231 breast carcinoma cells onto collagen coated polyacrylamid gels. The Youngs modulus of the gels was tuned between 1500 (’soft’) and 6000 (’hard’) Pa. The evolution of cell tractions was computed from the gel deformation measured every 30 sec by tracking the displacements of fluorescent beads (ø0.5µm) embedded at the gel surface. As a robust estimate of total force generation, we computed for each cell the elastic strain energy U stored within the gel. As ex- pected, cells generated a higher maximum strain energy U = 1.01pJ) and spread more (A = 6002 ± 961µm2) on harder gels compared to softer gels (U = 0.20pJ, A = 3012 ± 492µm2). When the strain energy vs. time data of individual cells were normalized by spreading area, they collapsed onto a single relationship, regardless of gel stiff- ness. These data extend earlier findings of a proportionality between cell spreading and tension generation (Reinhard-King, Biophys J 2005) and show that individual cells exhibit a constant rate of stress increase during early adhesion events regardless of the substrate rigidity.

Item Type
Conference (Talk)
Peer revision
Publication Status
Event Details
Deutsche physikalische Gesellschaft Fruehjahrstagung, Regensburg.
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Cite as
Zitterbart, D. P. , Mierke, C. T. , Koch, T. M. and Fabry, B. (2007): Rate of stress increase during cell spreading on substrates with different matrix rigidity , Deutsche physikalische Gesellschaft Fruehjahrstagung, Regensburg .


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