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Micromechanics of cellularized biopolymer networks Public Deposited

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  • Collagen gels are widely used in experiments on cell mechanics because they mimic the extracellular matrix in physiological conditions. Collagen gels are often characterized by their bulk rheology; however, variations in the collagen fiber microstructure and cell adhesion forces cause the mechanical properties to be inhomogeneous at the cellular scale. We study the mechanics of type I collagen on the scale of tens to hundreds of microns by using holographic optical tweezers to apply pN forces to microparticles embedded in the collagen fiber network. We find that in response to optical forces, particle displacements are inhomogeneous, anisotropic, and asymmetric. Gels prepared at 21 °C and 37 °C show qualitative difference in their micromechanical characteristics. We also demonstrate that contracting cells remodel the micromechanics of their surrounding extracellular matrix in a strain- and distance-dependent manner. To further understand the micromechanics of cellularized extracellular matrix, we have constructed a computational model which reproduces the main experiment findings.
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  • Jones, C. A. R., Cibula, M., Feng, J., Krnacik, E. A., McIntyre, D. H., Levine, H., & Sun, B. (2015). Micromechanics of cellularized biopolymer networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(37), E5117-E5122. doi:10.1073/pnas.1509663112
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  • This research was supported in part by the Office of Naval Research via the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI) Nanometrology and Nanoelectronics Initiative (Grant N00014-07-1-0457). C. J and is partially supported by the National Science Foundation grant PHY-1400968. J.-C.F. is supported by the National Science Foundation Center for Theoretical Biological Physics (Grant No. PHY-1308264). H.L. is supported in part by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Scholar Program of the State of Texas at Rice University.
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