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Title: Cross-link debonding in actin networks - influence on mechanical properties

Authors: Björn Fallqvist; Artem Kulachenko; Martin Kroon

Addresses: Department of Solid Mechanics, Royal Institute of Technology, Teknikringen 8, 100 44 Stockholm, Sweden ' Department of Solid Mechanics, Royal Institute of Technology, Teknikringen 8, 100 44 Stockholm, Sweden ' Department of Solid Mechanics, Royal Institute of Technology, Teknikringen 8, 100 44 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: The actin cytoskeleton is essential for the continued function and survival of the cell. A peculiar mechanical characteristic of actin networks is their remodelling ability, providing them with a time-dependent response to mechanical forces. In cross-linked actin networks, this behaviour is typically tuned by the binding affinity of the cross-link. We propose that the debonding of a cross-link between filaments can be modelled using a stochastic approach, in which the activation energy for a bond is modified by a term to account for mechanical strain energy. By use of a finite element model, we perform numerical analyses in which we first compare the model behaviour to experimental results. The computed and experimental results are in good agreement for short time scales, but over longer time scales the stress is overestimated. However, it does provide a possible explanation for experimentally observed strain-rate dependence as well as strain-softening at longer time scales.

Keywords: cross-link debonding; actin networks; mechanical properties; actin filaments; stress; strain rate; stochastic modelling; actin cytoskeleton; finite element method; FEM; cell biology; cellular function.

DOI: 10.1504/IJECB.2015.067679

International Journal of Experimental and Computational Biomechanics, 2015 Vol.3 No.1, pp.16 - 26

Available online: 21 Feb 2015 *

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