Redundancy and cooperativity in the mechanics of compositely crosslinked filamentous networks

Moumita Das, D. A. Quint, J. M. Schwarz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The cytoskeleton of living cells contains many types of crosslinkers. Some crosslinkers allow energy-free rotations between filaments and others do not. The mechanical interplay between these different crosslinkers is an open issue in cytoskeletal mechanics. Therefore, we develop a theoretical framework based on rigidity percolation to study a generic filamentous system containing both stretching and bond-bending forces to address this issue. The framework involves both analytical calculations via effective medium theory and numerical simulations on a percolating triangular lattice with very good agreement between both. We find that the introduction of angle-constraining crosslinkers to a semiflexible filamentous network with freely rotating crosslinks can cooperatively lower the onset of rigidity to the connectivity percolation threshold-a result argued for years but never before obtained via effective medium theory. This allows the system to ultimately attain rigidity at the lowest concentration of material possible. We further demonstrate that introducing angle-constraining crosslinks results in mechanical behaviour similar to just freely rotating crosslinked semflexible filaments, indicating redundancy and universality. Our results also impact upon collagen and fibrin networks in biological and bio-engineered tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere35939
JournalPloS one
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 9 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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