Vol. 6, No. 1-4, 2011

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ISSN: 1559-3959
A poroelastic model for cell crawling including mechanical coupling between cytoskeletal contraction and actin polymerization

Larry A. Taber, Yunfei Shi, Le Yang and Philip V. Bayly

Vol. 6 (2011), No. 1-4, 569–589
Abstract

Much is known about the biophysical mechanisms involved in cell crawling, but how these processes are coordinated to produce directed motion is not well understood. Here, we propose a new hypothesis whereby local cytoskeletal contraction generates fluid flow through the lamellipodium, with the pressure at the front of the cell facilitating actin polymerization which pushes the leading edge forward. The contraction, in turn, is regulated by stress in the cytoskeleton. To test this hypothesis, finite element models for a crawling cell are presented. These models are based on nonlinear poroelasticity theory, modified to include the effects of active contraction and growth, which are regulated by mechanical feedback laws. Results from the models agree reasonably well with published experimental data for cell speed, actin flow, and cytoskeletal deformation in migrating fish epidermal keratocytes. The models also suggest that oscillations can occur for certain ranges of parameter values.

Keywords
cell migration, poroelasticity, keratocyte
Milestones
Received: 19 April 2010
Revised: 16 September 2010
Accepted: 30 September 2010
Published: 28 June 2011
Authors
Larry A. Taber
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Washington University
1 Brookings Drive, Box 1097
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
Yunfei Shi
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Washington University
1 Brookings Drive, Box 1097
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
Le Yang
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Washington University
1 Brookings Drive, Box 1097
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
Philip V. Bayly
Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Washington University
1 Brookings Drive, Box 1097
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States