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Published May 1, 2020 | public
Journal Article Open

A Minimal Mechanosensing Model Predicts Keratocyte Evolution on Flexible Substrates


A mathematical model is proposed for shape evolution and locomotion of fish epidermal keratocytes on elastic substrates. The model is based on mechanosensing concepts: cells apply contractile forces onto the elastic substrate, while cell shape evolution depends locally on the substrate stress generated by themselves or external mechanical stimuli acting on the substrate. We use the level set method to study the behaviour of the model numerically, and predict a number of distinct phenomena observed in experiments, such as (i) symmetry breaking from the stationary centrosymmetric to the well-known steadily propagating crescent shape, (ii) asymmetric bipedal oscillations and travelling waves in the lamellipodium leading edge, (iii) response to remote mechanical stress externally applied to the substrate (tensotaxis) and (iv) changing direction of motion towards an interface with a rigid substrate (durotaxis).

Additional Information

© 2020 The Author(s). Published by the Royal Society. Manuscript received 14/03/2020; Manuscript accepted 07/04/2020; Published online 06/05/2020; Published in print 27/05/2020. Data accessibility: The numerical code used in the simulations reported herein is available at: https://github.com/CellEvolution/cellevolution/tree/master/KeratocyteCode. Authors' contributions: Z.Z. wrote the numerical code and ran the simulations, P.R. developed the model, all authors analysed and discussed the model and results. T.Y.H. and G.R. critically revised the manuscript. All authors gave final approval for publication and agree to be held accountable for the work performed therein. We declare we have no competing interest. The research of Z.Z. was supported in part by the Hong Kong RGC grants (Projects 27300616, 17300817 and 17300318), National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project 11601457), and Seed Funding Programme for Basic Research (HKU). Z.Z. thanks the support and hospitality of T.Y.H. when he was a postdoctoral scholar at Caltech. The research of P.R. was partially supported by the EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie project modcompshock.eu, agreement no. 642768. The research of T.Y.H. was supported in part by NSF grant nos. DMS-1907977 and DMS-1912654. G.R. acknowledges the support of the National Science Foundation (DMR no. 0520565) through the Center for Science and Engineering of Materials at the California Institute of Technology.

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Submitted - 1803.09220.pdf

Supplemental Material - rsif20200175supp1.pdf

Supplemental Material - rsif20200175supp2.pdf


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August 19, 2023
August 19, 2023