A network of semiflexible biopolymers, known as the cytoskeleton, and molecular motors play fundamental mechanical roles in cellular activities. The cytoskeletal response to forces generated by molecular motors is profoundly linked to physiological processes. However, owing to the highly nonlinear mechanical properties, the cytoskeletal response on the microscopic level is largely elusive. The aim of this study is to investigate the microscopic mechanical response of semiflexible biopolymer networks by conducting microrheology (MR) experiments. Micrometer-sized colloidal particles, embedded in semiflexible biopolymer networks, were forced beyond the linear regime at a variety of conditions by using feedback-controlled optical trapping. This high-bandwidth MR technology revealed an affine elastic response, which showed stiffening upon local forcing. After scaling the stiffening behaviors, with parameters describing semiflexible networks, a collapse onto a single master curve was observed. The physics underlying the general microscopic response is presented to justify the collapse, and its potentials/implications to elucidate cell mechanics is discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)