Cytoskeletal architecture and mechanical behavior of living cells

K. Yu Volokh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Conventional continuum mechanics models considering living cells as viscous fluid balloons are unable to explain some recent experimental observations. In contrast, new microstructural models provide the desirable explanations. These models emphasize the role of the cell cytoskeleton built of struts-microtubules and cables-microfilaments. A specific architectural model of the cytoskeletal framework called "tensegrity" deserved wide attention recently. Tensegrity models particularly account for the phenomenon of linear stiffening of living cells. These models are discussed from the structural mechanics perspective. Classification of structural assemblies is given and the meaning of "tensegrity" is pinpointed. Possible sources of non-linearity leading to cell stiffening are emphasized. The role of local buckling of microtubules and overall stability of the cytoskeleton is stressed. Computational studies play a central role in the development of the microstructural theoretical framework allowing for the prediction of the cell behavior from "first principles". Algorithms of computer analysis of the cytoskeleton that consider unilateral response of microfilaments and deep postbuckling of microtubules are addressed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-220
Number of pages8
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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