A mesoscale mechanical model of cellular interactions

Biophys J. 2021 Nov 16;120(22):4905-4917. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2021.10.021. Epub 2021 Oct 21.


Computational models of cell mechanics allow the precise interrogation of cell shape change. These morphological changes are required for cells to survive in diverse tissue environments. Here, we present a mesoscale mechanical model of cell-substrate interactions using the level set method based on experimentally measured parameters. By implementing a viscoelastic mechanical equivalent circuit, we accurately model whole-cell deformations that are important for a variety of cellular processes. To effectively model shape changes as a cell interacts with a substrate, we have included receptor-mediated adhesion, which is governed by catch-slip bond behavior. The effect of adhesion was explored by subjecting cells to a variety of different substrates including flat, curved, and deformable surfaces. Finally, we increased the accuracy of our simulations by including a deformable nucleus in our cells. This model sets the foundation for further exploration into computational analyses of multicellular interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Communication*
  • Cell Nucleus*
  • Cell Shape
  • Stress, Mechanical