Lifetime and strength of periodic bond clusters between elastic media under inclined loading.

Division of Engineering, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA.
Biophysical Journal (Impact Factor: 3.83). 11/2009; 97(9):2438-45. DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2009.08.027
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Focal adhesions are clusters of specific receptor-ligand bonds that link an animal cell to an extracellular matrix. To understand the mechanical responses of focal adhesions, here we develop a stochastic-elasticity model of a periodic array of adhesion clusters between two dissimilar elastic media subjected to an inclined tensile stress, in which stochastic descriptions of molecular bonds and elastic descriptions of interfacial traction are unified in a single modeling framework. We first establish a fundamental scaling law of interfacial traction distribution and derive a stress concentration index that governs the transition between uniform and cracklike singular distributions of the interfacial traction within molecular bonds. Guided by this scaling law, we then perform Monte Carlo simulations to investigate the effects of cluster size, cell/extracellular matrix modulus, and loading direction on lifetime and strength of the adhesion clusters. The results show that intermediate adhesion size, stiff substrate, cytoskeleton stiffening, and low-angle pulling are factors that contribute to the stability of focal adhesions. The predictions of our model provide feasible explanations for a wide range of experimental observations and suggest possible mechanisms by which cells can modulate adhesion and deadhesion via cytoskeletal contractile machinery and sense mechanical properties of their surroundings.

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