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Cytoskeletal Anisotropy Controls Geometry and Forces of Adherent Cells

Wim Pomp*, Koen Schakenraad*, Hayri E. Balcioğlu, Hedde van Hoorn, Erik H. J. Danen, Roeland M. H. Merks, Thomas Schmidt, Luca Giomi (* equal contributions). Cytoskeletal Anisotropy Controls Geometry and Forces of Adherent Cells. Physical Review Letters 121:178101 (2018)

We investigate the geometrical and mechanical properties of adherent cells characterized by a highly anisotropic actin cytoskeleton. Using a combination of theoretical work and experiments on micropillar arrays, we demonstrate that the shape of the cell edge is accurately described by elliptical arcs, whose eccentricity expresses the degree of anisotropy of the internal cell stresses. This results in a spatially varying tension along the cell edge, that significantly affects the traction forces exerted by the cell on the substrate. Our work highlights the strong interplay between cell mechanics and geometry and paves the way towards the reconstruction of cellular forces from geometrical data [ Physical Review Letters ] [ preprint on arXiv ]