Using a minimal model of cells or cohesive cell layers as continuum active elastic media, we examine the effect of substrate thickness and stiffness on traction forces exerted by strongly adhering cells. We obtain a simple expression for the length scale controlling the spatial variation of stresses in terms of cell and substrate parameters that describes the crossover between the thin and thick substrate limits. Our model is an important step towards a unified theoretical description of the dependence of traction forces on cell or colony size, acto-myosin contractility, substrate depth and stiffness, and strength of focal adhesions and makes experimentally testable predictions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)