Cyclic stretching of soft substrates induces spreading and growth

Yidan Cui, Feroz M. Hameed, Bo Yang, Kyunghee Lee, Catherine Qiurong Pan, Sungsu Park, Michael Sheetz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

228 Scopus citations


In the body, soft tissues often undergo cycles of stretching and relaxation that may affect cell behaviour without changing matrix rigidity. To determine whether transient forces can substitute for a rigid matrix, we stretched soft pillar arrays. Surprisingly, 1-5% cyclic stretching over a frequency range of 0.01-10 Hz caused spreading and stress fibre formation (optimum 0.1 Hz) that persisted after 4 h of stretching. Similarly, stretching increased cell growth rates on soft pillars comparative to rigid substrates. Of possible factors linked to fibroblast growth, MRTF-A (myocardin-related transcription factor-A) moved to the nucleus in 2 h of cyclic stretching and reversed on cessation; but YAP (Yes-associated protein) moved much later. Knockdown of either MRTF-A or YAP blocked stretch-dependent growth. Thus, we suggest that the repeated pulling from a soft matrix can substitute for a stiff matrix in stimulating spreading, stress fibre formation and growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6333
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Feb 23 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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