Dynamics of cell shape and forces on micropatterned substrates predicted by a cellular Potts model

Biophys J. 2014 Jun 3;106(11):2340-52. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2014.04.036.


Micropatterned substrates are often used to standardize cell experiments and to quantitatively study the relation between cell shape and function. Moreover, they are increasingly used in combination with traction force microscopy on soft elastic substrates. To predict the dynamics and steady states of cell shape and forces without any a priori knowledge of how the cell will spread on a given micropattern, here we extend earlier formulations of the two-dimensional cellular Potts model. The third dimension is treated as an area reservoir for spreading. To account for local contour reinforcement by peripheral bundles, we augment the cellular Potts model by elements of the tension-elasticity model. We first parameterize our model and show that it accounts for momentum conservation. We then demonstrate that it is in good agreement with experimental data for shape, spreading dynamics, and traction force patterns of cells on micropatterned substrates. We finally predict shapes and forces for micropatterns that have not yet been experimentally studied.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry
  • Cell Shape*
  • Elasticity*
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Extracellular Space / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Tensile Strength*