Mechanical Properties of the Cytoskeleton and Cells

Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2017 Nov 1;9(11):a022038. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a022038.


SUMMARYThe cytoskeleton is the major mechanical structure of the cell; it is a complex, dynamic biopolymer network comprising microtubules, actin, and intermediate filaments. Both the individual filaments and the entire network are not simple elastic solids but are instead highly nonlinear structures. Appreciating the mechanics of biopolymer networks is key to understanding the mechanics of cells. Here, we review the mechanical properties of cytoskeletal polymers and discuss the implications for the behavior of cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Biopolymers
  • Cells*
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Intermediate Filaments
  • Microtubules


  • Biopolymers