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Cell “Quakes” May Help Cells Respond to the Outside World

Carlos Floyd (Ph.D. ‘21 Biophysics), Christopher Jarzynski (IPST/CHEM/PHYS) and Garegin Papoian (IPST/CHEM) with colleague Herbert Levine (Northeastern University) co-authored an article, “Understanding cytoskeletal avalanches using mechanical stability analysis”, published online in PNAS, October 4.

The team used a pioneering active matter simulation software that they developed to simulate how the molecules within a portion of a living cell interact and behave. Their simulation helped them to describe the physics behind a “cytoquake,” which is a small earthquake-like motion in the scaffolding that gives cells their structure. 

Their results provide a connection between the cytoquake phenomenon and the network’s mechanical energy and can help guide future investigations of the cytoskeleton’s structural susceptibility.