Nematic order by elastic interactions and cellular rigidity sensing
Department of Materials and Interfaces, Weizmann Institute of Science - 76100 Rehovot, Israel
Accepted: 10 January 2011
We predict spontaneous nematic order in an ensemble of active force generators with elastic interactions as a minimal model for early nematic alignment of short stress fibers in non-motile, adhered cells. Mean-field theory is formally equivalent to Maier-Saupe theory for a nematic liquid. However, the elastic interactions are long-ranged (and thus depend on cell shape and matrix elasticity) and originate in cell activity. Depending on the density of force generators, we find two regimes of cellular rigidity sensing for which orientational, nematic order of stress fibers depends on matrix rigidity either in a step-like manner or with a maximum at an optimal rigidity.
PACS: 87.16.Ln – Cytoskeleton / 61.30.Gd – Orientational order of liquid crystals; electric and magnetic field effects on order / 87.10.Pq – Elasticity theory
© EPLA, 2011