Every breath, every heartbeat, every digestion of food requires the body's cells to stretch and contract. What keeps the cells from simply bursting from the exertion?
Scientists have thought that cells stabilize themselves by stiffening their connections to surrounding parts of the body. But a research team led by HSPH Professor Jeffrey Fredberg and Research Fellow Xavier Trepat has found quite the opposite. Rather than stiffening, cells become quite soft and fluid-like.
This insight provides a fresh understanding of basic cell responses and has implications for studying cell behavior in asthma, cancer and other diseases.
Universal physical responses to stretch in the living cell. Published in Nature in the May 31, 2007 issue. Page 592. Xavier Trepat, Linhong Deng, Steven S. An, Daniel Navajas, Daniel J. Tschumperlin, William T. Gerthoffer, James P. Butler, and Jeffrey J. Fredberg.