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Cellular Level Tensegrity

The next few blog posts will be quotes related to cellular level tensegrity and mechanics:
“Tensegrity and mechanoregulation: from skeleton to cytoskeleton”, Christopher S. Chen and Donald E. Ingber, Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage (1999) 7, 81-94.
doi:10.1053/joca.1998.1064

“Most conventional engineering models of living cells assume external forces are distributed evenly across the cell surface and consider the key load-bearing elements of the cell to be a homogeneous, isotropic viscous fluid cytosol or homogenous, isotropic viscoelastic solid cytoskeleton, and surrounding tensed membrane. In reality, we find that the cells within a living tissue, such as a tensed ligament are not evenly glued to their underlying ECM adhesive substrate, but instead, actually anchor themselves to ECM through spot weld-like attachments that are known as ‘focal adhesions’.

“These sites are where cells pull together or cluster multiple transmembrane receptors, known as ‘integrins’, that bind to specific ECM molecules on the outside of the cell and thereby mediate cell anchorage. Surrounding regions of the plasma membrane lack these receptors and do not mechanically connect to the ECM scaffold.”

“Importantly, all living cells are contractile: they generate tension within their internal cytoskeleton via an actomyosin filament sliding mechanism similar to that used in muscle.”

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