Divided medium-based model for analyzing the dynamic reorganization of the cytoskeleton during cell deformation

  • Milan Jean-Louis
  • Wendling-Mansuy Sylvie
  • Jean Michel
  • Chabrand Patrick

  • Stiffness
  • Stress-strain relationships
  • Mechanical cell responses
  • Multicompartment


Cell deformability and mechanical responses of living cells depend closely on the dynamic changes in the structural architecture of the cytoskeleton (CSK). To describe the dynamic reorganization and the heterogeneity of the prestressed multi-modular CSK, we developed a two-dimensional model for the CSK which was taken to be a system of tension and compression interactions between the nodes in a divided medium. The model gives the dynamic reorganization of the CSK consisting of fast changes in connectivity between nodes during medium deformation and the resulting mechanical behavior is consistent with the strain-hardening and prestress-induced stiffening observed in cells in vitro. In addition, the interaction force networks which occur and balance to each other in the model can serve to identify the main CSK substructures: cortex, stress fibers, intermediate filaments, microfilaments, microtubules and focal adhesions. Removing any of these substructures results in a loss of integrity in the model and a decrease in the prestress and stiffness, and suggests that the CSK substructures are highly interdependent. The present model may therefore provide a useful tool for understanding the cellular processes involving CSK reorganization, such as mechanotransduction, migration and adhesion processes.