Date of Original Version
Durotaxis refers to the phenomenon in which cells can sense the spatial gradient of the substrate rigidity in the process of cell migration. A conceptual two-part theory consisting of the focal adhesion force generation and mechanotransduction has been proposed previously by Lo et al. to explain the mechanism underlying durotaxis. In the present work, we are concerned with the first part of the theory: how exactly is the larger focal adhesion force generated in the part of the cell adhering to the stiffer region of the substrate? Using a simple elasticity model and by assuming the cell adheres to the substrate continuously underneath the whole cell body, we show that the mechanics principle of static equilibrium alone is sufficient to account for the generation of the larger traction stress on the stiffer region of the substrate. We believe that our model presents a simple mechanistic understanding of mechanosensing of substrate stiffness gradient at the cellular scale, which can be incorporated in more sophisticated mechanobiochemical models to address complex problems in mechanobiology and bioengineering.
Marzban, B., Yi, X. & Yuan, H. Biomech Model Mechanobiol (2018) 17: 915. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10237-018-1001-3
Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10237-018-1001-3