Physics of adherent cells
2013
Authors: Ulrich S. Schwarz and Samuel A. Safran
CellNetworks People: Schwarz Ulrich
Journal: Rev. Mod. Phys., 85:1327-1381, Aug 2013

One of the most unique physical features of cell adhesion to external
surfaces is the active generation of mechanical force at the
cell-material interface. This includes pulling forces generated by
contractile polymer bundles and networks, and pushing forces generated
by the polymerization of polymer networks. These forces are
transmitted to the substrate mainly by focal adhesions, which are
large, yet highly dynamic adhesion clusters. Tissue cells use these
forces to sense the physical properties of their environment and to
communicate with each other. The effect of forces is intricately
linked to the material properties of cells and their physical
environment. Here a review is given of recent progress in our
understanding of the role of forces in cell adhesion from the
viewpoint of theoretical soft matter physics and in close relation to
the relevant experiments.