Actin stress fibers (SFs), bundles of actin filaments crosslinked by α-actinin and myosin II in non-muscle cells, are mechanosensitive structural elements that respond to applied stress and strain to regulate cell morphology, signal transduction and cell function. Results from various studies indicate that myosin-generated contraction extends SFs beyond their unloaded lengths and cells maintain fiber strain at an optimal level that depends on actomyosin activity (Lu et al., 2008). Stretching the matrix upon which cells adhere perturbs the cell-matrix traction forces and cells respond by actively re-establishing the preexisting level of force (Brown et al., 1998; Gavara et al., 2008). We have developed a sarcomeric model of SF networks (Kaunas et al., 2011) to predict the effects of stretch on SF reorganization depending on the rates of matrix stretching, SF turnover, and SF stress relaxation.

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