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Saturday, 01 April, 2006

A bottom-up approach to cell mechanics

A. R. Bausch and K. Kroy -
Nature Physics 2, 231 - 238 (2006)

The mechanical stability and integrity of biological cells is provided by the cytoskeleton, a semidilute meshwork of biopolymers. Recent research has underscored its role as a dynamic, multifunctional muscle, whose passive and active mechanical performance is highly heterogeneous in space and time and intimately linked to many biological functions, such that it may serve as a sensitive indicator for the health or developmental state of the cell. In vitro reconstitution of ‘functional modules’ of the cytoskeleton is now seen as a way of balancing the mutually conflicting demands for simplicity, which is required for systematic and quantitative studies, and for a sufficient degree of complexity that allows a faithful representation of biological functions. This bottom-up strategy, aimed at unravelling biological complexity from its physical basis, builds on the latest advances in technology, experimental design and theoretical modelling, which are reviewed in this progress report.

 

hArticle on the journal's website