Scaling of traction forces with the size of cohesive cell colonies

Aaron F. Mertz, Shiladitya Banerjee, Yonglu Che, Guy K. German, Ye Xu, Callen Hyland, M. Cristina Marchetti, Valerie Horsley, Eric R. Dufresne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


To understand how the mechanical properties of tissues emerge from interactions of multiple cells, we measure traction stresses of cohesive colonies of 1-27 cells adherent to soft substrates. We find that traction stresses are generally localized at the periphery of the colony and the total traction force scales with the colony radius. For large colony sizes, the scaling appears to approach linear, suggesting the emergence of an apparent surface tension of the order of 10 -3N/m. A simple model of the cell colony as a contractile elastic medium coupled to the substrate captures the spatial distribution of traction forces and the scaling of traction forces with the colony size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number198101
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 8 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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