Mechanical factors play an important role in the regulation of cell physiology. One pathway by which mechanical stress may influence gene expression is through a direct physical connection from the extracellular matrix across the plasma membrane and to the nucleus. However, little is known of the mechanical properties or deformation behavior of the nucleus. The goal of this study was to quantify the viscoelastic properties of mechanically and chemically isolated nuclei of articular chondrocytes using micropipet aspiration in conjunction theoretical viscoelastic model. Isolated nuclei behaved as viscoelastic solid materials similar to the cytoplasm, but were 3-4 times stiffer and nearly twice as viscous as the cytoplasm. Quantitative information of the biophysical properties and deformation behavior of the nucleus may provide further insight on the relationships between the stress-strain state of the nucleus and that of the extracellular matrix, as well as potential mechanisms of mechanical signal transduction.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.