Cell-matrix and cell-cell adhesion play important roles in a wide variety of physiological processes, from the single-cell level to the large scale, multicellular organization of tissues. Cells actively apply forces to their environment, either extracellular matrix or neighboring cells, as well as sense its biophysical properties. The fluctuations associated with these active processes occur on an energy scale much larger than that of ordinary thermal equilibrium fluctuations, yet their statistical properties and characteristic scales are not fully understood. Here, we compare measurements of the energy scale of active cellular fluctuations—an effective cellular temperature—in four different biophysical settings, involving both single-cell and cell-aggregate experiments under various control conditions, different cell types, and various biophysical observables. The results indicate that a similar energy scale of active fluctuations might characterize the same cell type in different settings, though it may vary among different cell types, being approximately six to eight orders of magnitude larger than the ordinary thermal energy at room temperature. These findings call for extracting the energy scale of active fluctuations over a broader range of cell types, experimental settings, and biophysical observables and for understanding the biophysical origin and significance of such cellular energy scales.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)