The actin cytoskeleton provides mechanical support for the cell and influences activities such as cancer metastasis and chemotaxis. While their mechanical responses have been studied in vivo and in vitro, understanding the link between these two forms remains challenging. To explore this gap and further understand cell structure, we reconstructed the cell cytoskeleton in a membrane-like spherical liposome to mimic the cellular environment; this enables an artificial “cell like” system. Through this approach, we are pursuing a path to compare in vitro mechanics from a polymer physics perspective of individual actin filaments with the in vivo mechanics of a living cell [1]. A living cell contains many organelles, which are in a highly packed environment and require significant organization to function. The actin cytoskeleton provides both structural and organizational regulation that is essential for cellular response. Here, we first encapsulated G-actin into giant unilamellar vesicles through an electroformation technique and then polymerized them into actin filaments (F-actin) within individual vesicles. To probe their conformation, we visualized these vesicles with fluorescence and laser scanning confocal microscopy. We then used a tapping mode atomic force microscopy to determine the mechanical properties of these cell-like systems. These results provide insight into a wide range of fields and studies including polymer physics, cell biology, and biotechnology.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.