Three-dimensional matrices often contain highly structured adhesive tracks that require cells to turn corners and bridge non-adhesive areas. Here, we investigate these complex processes using micropatterned cell adhesive frames. Spreading kinetics on these matrices depend strongly on initial adhesive position and are predicted by a cellular Potts model (CPM), which reflects a balance between adhesion and intracellular tension. As cells spread, new stress fibers (SFs) assemble periodically and parallel to the leading edge, with spatial intervals of ∼2.5 μm, temporal intervals of ∼15 min, and characteristic lifetimes of ∼50 min. By incorporating these rules into the CPM, we can successfully predict SF network architecture. Moreover, we observe broadly similar behavior when we culture cells on arrays of discrete collagen fibers. Our findings show that ECM geometry and initial cell position strongly determine cell spreading and that cells encode a memory of their spreading history through SF network organization.
Keywords: actin cytoskeleton; cell memory; cell migration; cell shape; cell spreading; cell-matrix adhesion; cellular Potts model; mathematical modeling; mechanobiology; stress fibers.
Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.