Physical limits on cellular directional mechanosensing
Author(s)Bouffanais, Roland; Sun, Jianmin; Yue, Dick K. P.
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Many eukaryotic cells are able to perform directional mechanosensing by directly measuring minute spatial differences in the mechanical stress on their membranes. Here, we explore the limits of a single mechanosensitive channel activation using a two-state double-well model for the gating mechanism. We then focus on the physical limits of directional mechanosensing by a single cell having multiple mechanosensors and subjected to a shear flow inducing a nonuniform membrane tension. Our results demonstrate that the accuracy in sensing the mechanostimulus direction not only increases with cell size and exposure to a signal, but also grows for cells with a near-critical membrane prestress. Finally, the existence of a nonlinear threshold effect, fundamentally limiting the cell's ability to effectively perform directional mechanosensing at a low signal-to-noise ratio, is uncovered.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Mechanical Engineering; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. School of Engineering
Physical Review E
American Physical Society
Bouffanais, Roland, Jianmin Sun, and Dick K. P. Yue. “Physical limits on cellular directional mechanosensing.” Physical Review E 87, no. 5 (May 2013). © 2013 American Physical Society
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