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Active contraction in biological fiber networks - Pierre RONCERAY

LPTMS, Université Paris Sud


Living organisms generate forces to move, change shape and maintain their internal functions. These forces are typically produced at the nanometer scale by molecular motors, and are then transmitted to larger scales by networks of fibers. While these motors are traditionally regarded as the defining elements of biological force generation, I will show that the surrounding network also plays a central role in this process. Indeed, rather than merely propagating forces like a simple elastic medium, fiber networks produce emergent, dramatically amplified stresses, and can go so far as reversing small-scale extensile forces into large-scale contraction. Our theory quantitatively accounts for experimental measurements of contraction, and sheds light on the role of the network microstructure in shaping active stresses in cells and tissues.

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