The leading edge is the primary force producing component of migrating fibroblasts

Adam S. Meshel, Michael Sheetz

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


To examine how cells generate force at the level of single extracellular matrix fibers, a miniature force-transducer system was created around a novel microfabricated silicon device. We characterize the development of isometric force on single collagen type-I fibers. We show that cells remodel individual collagen fibers by moving them inward using a hand-over-hand cycle of binding, movement, and release. This remodelling is caused by only a 2-3 micrometer region of active lamellapodium. We also show that movement of individual fibers is rapid at low restrictive forces, and this velocity quickly decreases as forces approach 60 pN. A single cell is capable of generating between 180-250 pN of force on a single fiber. This data supports the hypothesis that the leading edge of migrating cells is primarily responsible for generating force on the substrate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)296-297
Number of pages2
JournalAnnual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology - Proceedings
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002
Externally publishedYes
EventProceedings of the 2002 IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology 24th Annual Conference and the 2002 Fall Meeting of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES / EMBS) - Houston, TX, United States
Duration: Oct 23 2002Oct 26 2002


  • Biomechanics
  • Cell adhesion
  • Cell movement
  • Extracellular matrix/collagen
  • Force measurements
  • Myosin II
  • Nanofabrication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering


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