Cell Mechanics

In addition to genetics and biochemistry, cells use mechanical forces to regulate central cellular functions, such as cell migration and cell growth. Cells are also sensitive to external mechanical forces and environmental mechanical properties, and use mechanical forces to communicate. We utilize mechanical concepts to quantitatively explore cell dynamics in animal cells.

Key papers:

  1. Jiang HY and Sun SX*. Cellular pressure and volume regulation and implications for cell mechanics. Biophys. J. 2013 Aug 6;105(3):609-19. PMID: 23931309

  2. Gonzalez NP, Tao J, Rochman ND, Vig D, Chiu E, Wirtz D and Sun SX*. Cell tension and mechanical regulation of cell volume. Mol. Biol. Cell. 2018 Oct 15;29(21):E18-04-0213. PMID: 30113884.

  3. Tsai HK, Nelliat AR, Choudhury MI, Kucharavy A, Bradford WD, Cook ME, Kim J, Mair DB, Sun SX, Schatz MC and Li R*, Hypo-osmotic-like stress underlies general cellular defects of aneuploidy. Nature, 2019 Jun;570(7759):117-121. PMID: 31068692.

  4. Perez-Gonzalez NA, Rochman ND, Yao K, Tao J, Le MT, Flanary S, Sablich L, Toler B, Crentsil E, Takaesu F, Lambrus B, Huang J, Fu V, Chengappa P, Jones TM, Holland AJ, An S, Wirtz D, Petrie RJ, Guan KL and Sun SX*. YAP and TAZ regulate cell volume. J. Cell Biol. 2019 Sep 3. pii: jcb.201902067. PMID: 31481532.

  5. Walcott S, and Sun SX. A mechanical model of actin stress fiber formation and substrate elasticity sensing in adherent cells. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 2010 Apr 27;107(17):7757-62. PMID: 20385838

  6. Yellin F, Li Y, Sreenivasan VKA, Farrell B, Johny MB, Yue D and Sun SX. Electromechanics and volume dynamics in nonexcitable tissue cells. Biophys. J. 2018 114(9):2231-2242. PMID: 29742416

Water Dynamics in Cells and Tissues

Water is the most abundant molecule in the cell, and mammalian cell surfaces are highly permeable to water. The flow of water across the cell surface is driven by osmotic and hydraulic pressure gradients. The cell use ion channels and pumps to regulate cell osmotic content, cytoplasmic water content, and the cell size. This important regulatory system is not well understood, but impacts every aspect of cellular function. In particular, cells can move and migrate by actively pumping ions and fluid. We use a combination of mathematical modeling and experiments to understand the biological impact of cell water dynamics. 

Key papers:

  1. Li Y, Konstantopoulos K, Zhao R, Mori Y, Sun SX*, The importance of water and hydraulic pressure in cell dynamics. J. Cell Sci. 133: jcs240341.

  2. Stroka KM, Jiang H, Chen SH, Tong Z, Wirtz D, Sun SX*, Konstantopoulos K*. Water permeation drives tumor cell migration in confined environments. Cell. 2014 Apr 24;157(3):611-23. PMID: 24726433

  3. Li Y, and Sun SX*. Transition from actin-driven to water-driven cell migration depends on external hydraulic resistance. Biophys. J. 2018 Jun 19;114(12):2965-73. PMID: 29925032

  4. Li Y, Mori Y and Sun SX*. Flow-driven cell migration under external electric fields. Phys. Rev. Lett. 2015 115, 268101. PMID: 26765031

  5. Li Y, Yao L, Mori Y, and Sun, SX*. On the energy efficiency of cell migration in diverse physical environments. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 2019 116(48):23894-23900. PMID: 31719206

  6. Choudhury, M.I.;  Li, Y.;  Mistriotis, P.;  Vasconcelos, A., Dixson, E.E.;  Yang, J.;  Benson, M.; Maity, D.; Walker, R.; Martin, L.; Koroma, F.; Qian, F.; Konstantopoulos, K.; Woodward, O.M.; Sun, S.X., Trans-epithelial Fluid Pumping Performance of Renal Epithelial Cells and Mechanics of Cystic Epithelium. Nature Comm 2022, in press.