Contractile fibers and catch bond clusters : a biological force sensor?

E.A. Novikova, C. Storm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Catch bonds are cellular receptor-ligand pairs whose lifetime, counterintuitively, increases with increasing load. Although their existence was initially pure theoretical speculation, recent years have seen several experimental demonstrations of catch-bond behavior in biologically relevant and functional protein-protein bonds. Particularly notable among these established catch-bond formers is the integrin a5ß1, the primary receptor for fibronectin and, as such, a crucial determinant for the characteristics of the mechanical coupling between cell and matrix. In this work, we explore the implications of single catch-bond characteristics for the behavior of a load-sharing cluster of such bonds: These clusters are shown to possess a regime of strengthening with increasing applied force, similar to the manner in which focal adhesions become selectively reinforced. Our results may shed new light on the fundamental processes that allow cells to sense and respond to the mechanical properties of their environment and in particular show how single focal adhesions may act, autonomously, as local rigidity sensors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1336-1345
Number of pages10
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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