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Intracellular softening and fluidification reveals a mechanical switch of cytoskeletal material contributions during division

By Sebastian Hurst, Bart Eduard Vos, Timo Betz

Posted 08 Jan 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.01.07.425761

The life and death of an organism depends largely on correct cell division. While the overall biochemical signaling and morphological processes during mitosis are well understood, the importance of mechanical forces and material properties is only just starting to be discovered. Recent studies of global cell stiffening during cell division may imply an understanding of the cytosol mechanics that is mistaken. Here we show that in contrast to the stiffening process in the cell cortex, the interior of the cell undergoes a softening and fluidification that is accompanied by a decrease of active forces driving particle mobility. Using optical tweezers-based microrheology we capture the complex active and passive material state of the cytoplasm using only six relevant parameters. We demonstrate that the softening occurs because of a surprising role switch between microtubules and actin, where the intracellular, actin-based mechanics is largely controlled by a formin-mediated network.

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