The dynamic responses of actin stress fibers within a cell's cytoskeleton are central to the development and maintenance of healthy tissues and organs. Disturbances to these underlie a broad range of pathologies. Because of the importance of these responses, extensive experiments have been conducted in vitro to characterize actin cytoskeleton dynamics of cells cultured upon two-dimensional substrata, and the first experiments have been conducted for cells within three-dimensional tissue models. Three mathematical models exist for predicting the dynamic behaviors observed. Surprisingly, despite differing viewpoints on how actin stress fibers are stabilized or destabilized, all of these models are predictive of a broad range of available experimental data. Coarsely, the models of Kaunas and co-workers adopt a strategy whereby mechanical stretch can hasten the depolymerization actin stress fibers that turn over constantly, while the models of Desphande and co-workers adopt a strategy whereby mechanical stress is required to activate the formation of stress fibers and subsequently stabilize them. In three-dimensional culture, elements of both approaches appear necessary to predict observed phenomena, as embodied by the model of Lee et al. After providing a critical review of existing models, we propose lines of experimentation that might be able to test the different principles underlying their kinetic laws.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2490-2500
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Cell Research
Issue number16
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013


  • Actin stress fibers
  • Models of stress fiber kinetics
  • Response of actin cytoskeleton to stretch


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