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Measuring Cell Mechanics

Colloquium Series on Quantitative Cell Biology

Margaret Gardel​‌
University of Chicago
Patrick Oakes​‌
University of Chicago


Cells are inherently physical entities that both experience mechanical forces from their external environment and generate their own internal forces to drive cell motion. Our particular aim here is to present the reader with an introduction to the primary tools used to measure these mechanical interactions and the material properties of cells that result from them. These approaches can be applied to a diverse array of physiological processes and systems, providing important insight into the regulatory roles of mechanical interactions in cells. We cover techniques at both the molecular and cellular scales, including those that actively and passively probe the system. Along the way we cover the fundamental principles of each approach, while emphasizing the relevant length and timescales, along with the typical magnitudes of the measurements that can be made. Each section ends by highlighting uses of the various techniques in recent relevant publications, illustrating the exciting future of cell mechanics in quantitative cell biology research.

Table of Contents: Introduction / Molecular Measurements / Mechanical Properties of Cells / Perturbing Cellular Mechanics / Concluding Remarks / References / Author Biographies

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Cited by

Hsiao‐Chuan Liu, Eun Ji Gang, Hye Na Kim, Nour Abdel‐Azim, Ruimin Chen, Hisham Abdel‐Azim, K. Kirk Shung, Yong‐Mi Kim​‌. (2020) Integrin Antibody Decreases Deformability of Patient‐Derived Pre‐B Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia Cells as Measured by High‐Frequency Acoustic Tweezers. Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine 39:3, 589-595.
Online publication date: 21-Oct-2019.
F. A. Egorov, V. T. Potapov​‌. (2019) Laser Excitation of Torsional Vibrations in Optical Microfibers. Technical Physics Letters 45:2, 176-179.
Online publication date: 6-May-2019.
Hsiao-Chuan Liu, Eun Ji Gang, Hye Na Kim, Hae Gyun Lim, Hayong Jung, Ruimin Chen, Hisham Abdel-Azim, K. Kirk Shung, Yong-Mi Kim​‌. (2018) Characterizing Deformability of Drug Resistant Patient-Derived Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) Cells Using Acoustic Tweezers. Scientific Reports 8:1.
Online publication date: 24-Oct-2018.

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