Adaptive rheology and ordering of cell cytoskeleton govern matrix rigidity sensing
Gupta M, Sarangi BR, Deschamps J, Nematbakhsh Y, Callan-Jones A, Margadant F, Mège RM, Lim CT, Voituriez R, Ladoux B.
2015 Jun 25
Matrix rigidity sensing regulates a large variety of cellular processes and has important implications for tissue development and disease. However, how cells probe matrix rigidity, and hence respond to it, remains unclear. Here, we show that rigidity sensing and adaptation emerge naturally from actin cytoskeleton remodelling. Our in vitroexperiments and theoretical modelling demonstrate a biphasic rheology of the actin cytoskeleton, which transitions from fluid on soft substrates to solid on stiffer ones. Furthermore, we find that increasing substrate stiffness correlates with the emergence of an orientational order in actin stress fibres, which exhibit an isotropic to nematic transition that we characterize quantitatively in the framework of active matter theory. These findings imply mechanisms mediated by a large-scale reinforcement of actin structures under stress, which could be the mechanical drivers of substrate stiffness-dependent cell shape changes and cell polarity.