Dependence of cyclic stretch-induced stress fiber reorientation on stretch waveform.
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Cyclic uniaxial stretching of adherent nonmuscle cells induces the gradual reorientation of their actin stress fibers perpendicular to the stretch direction to an extent dependent on stretch frequency. By subjecting cells to various temporal waveforms of cyclic stretch, we revealed that stress fibers are much more sensitive to strain rate than strain frequency. By applying asymmetric waveforms, stress fibers were clearly much more responsive to the rate of lengthening than the rate of shortening during the stretch cycle. These observations were interpreted using a theoretical model of networks of stress fibers with sarcomeric structure. The model predicts that stretch waveforms with fast lengthening rates generate greater average stress fiber tension than that generated by fast shortening. This integrated approach of experiment and theory provides new insight into the mechanisms by which cells respond to matrix stretching to maintain tensional homeostasis.