Cells adjust their morphology in response to physical and chemical interactions with their environment. In this report, we deem that the fundamental nature of free energies associated with cell/substrate interactions regulates adherent cell morphology. The final cell shape due to variations in substrate modulus is an energetically favorable morphology relying on the minimum of the total free energy in the cell/substrate system. This hypothesis is elucidated with a mathematical (thermodynamic) model and further supported through experiments using adherent normal and cancer liver cells. As a result, the model can be used to rationalize how the variation of substrate modulus is translated into changes in cell morphology. Importantly, the study demonstrates that the intrinsic cell modulus can be obtained from the global changes in cell morphology in response to changes in substrate modulus.
Citation: Nature Physics
Pub Type: Journals
cell modulus, cell morphlogy, free energy, cell-substrate adhesion and interaction, AFM