A kinematic model of stretch-induced stress fiber turnover and reorientation
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A kinetic model based on constrained mixture theory was developed to describe the reorganization of actin stress fibers in adherent cells in response to diverse patterns of mechanical stretch. The model was based on reports that stress fibers are pre-extended at a "homeostatic" level under normal, non-perturbed conditions, and that perturbations in stress fiber length destabilize stress fibers. In response to a step change in matrix stretch, the model predicts that stress fibers are initially stretched in registry with the matrix, but that these overly stretched fibers are gradually replaced by new fibers assembled with the homeostatic level of stretch in the new configuration of the matrix. In contrast, average fiber stretch is chronically perturbed from the homeostatic level when the cells are subjected to cyclic equibiaxial stretch. The model was able to describe experimentally measured time courses of stress fiber reorientation perpendicular to the direction of cyclic uniaxial stretch, as well as the lack of alignment in response to equibiaxial stretch. The model also accurately described the relationship between stretch magnitude and the extent of stress fiber alignment in endothelial cells subjected to cyclic uniaxial stretch. Further, in the case of cyclic simple elongation with transverse matrix contraction, stress fibers orient in the direction of least perturbation in stretch. In summary, the model predicts that the rate of stretch-induced stress fiber disassembly determines the rate of alignment, and that stress fibers tend to orient toward the direction of minimum matrix stretch where the rate of stress fiber turnover is a minimum.
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