Controlling cell-matrix traction forces by extracellular geometry

Shiladitya Banerjee, M. Cristina Marchetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


We present a minimal continuum model of strongly adhering cells as active contractile isotropic media and use the model for studying the effect of the geometry of the adhesion patch in controlling the spatial distribution of traction and cellular stresses. Activity is introduced as a contractile, hence negative, spatially homogeneous contribution to the pressure. The model shows that patterning of adhesion regions can be used to control traction stress distribution and yields several results consistent with experimental observations. Specifically, the cell spread area is found to increase with substrate stiffness and an analytic expression of the dependence is obtained for circular cells. The correlation between the magnitude of traction stresses and cell boundary curvature is also demonstrated and analyzed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number035015
JournalNew Journal of Physics
StatePublished - Mar 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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