Microbuckling of fibrin provides a mechanism for cell mechanosensing

Jacob Notbohm*, Ayelet Lesman, Phoebus Rosakis, David A. Tirrell, Guruswami Ravichandran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biological cells sense and respond to mechanical forces, but how such a mechanosensing process takes place in a nonlinear inhomogeneous fibrous matrix remains unknown.We show that cells in a fibrous matrix induce deformation fields that propagate over a longer range than predicted by linear elasticity. Synthetic, linear elastic hydrogels used in many mechanotransduction studies fail to capture this effect. We develop a nonlinear microstructural finite-element model for a fibre network to simulate localized deformations induced by cells. The model captures measured cell-induced matrix displacements from experiments and identifies an important mechanism for long-range cell mechanosensing: loss of compression stiffness owing to microbuckling of individual fibres. We show evidence that cells sense each other through the formation of localized intercellular bands of tensile deformations caused by this mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0320
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number108
StatePublished - 6 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
Division of Materials Research0520565
National Science FoundationDMR-1206121


    • Buckling
    • Cell mechanics
    • Fibrous matrix
    • Three-dimensional traction force


    Dive into the research topics of 'Microbuckling of fibrin provides a mechanism for cell mechanosensing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this