7th Annual Symposium
Physics of Cancer
Leipzig, Germany
October 4-6, 2016
Contributed Talk
Fiber Slippage in Collagen Matrices Enables Long-range Transmission of Mechanical Signals Between Local Cells
Hamid Mohammadi1, Anton Zilman2, Chris McCulloch3
1The Francis Crick Institute, Tumor Microenvironment, London UK
2Department of Physics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
3Matrix Dynamics Group, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
Long-range mechanical signaling between local cells is essential for many biological processes including wound healing and tumor progression. In these processes, extracellular matrices transmit cell-generated forces across networks, thereby mediating long-range mechanosensing. While several discrete mechanical properties of matrices are implicated in long-range force transmission, the role of inelasticity, an unusual but universal feature of natural biopolymers, is undefined. Here we examine force transmission and propagation of matrix deformation across reconstituted collagen networks using quantitative experiments and mathematical modeling. We find that linear and nonlinear elastic properties of matrix networks are insufficient to explain long-range force transmission. In contrast, cell-induced inelastic deformation enables long-range mechanosensing. This counter-intuitive requirement of matrix inelasticity in mechanosensing is supported by permanent reorganization of collagen fibers, which arises from fiber slippage and the formation of new configurations that favor long-range force transmission. Our findings provide a novel mechanism for force transmission in fibrillar biological networks.
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