3D mechanical characterization of single cells

Quantitative micromechanical characterization of single cells and multicellular tissues or organisms is of fundamental importance to the study of cellular growth, morphogenesis, and cell-cell interactions. However, due to limited manipulation capabilities at the microscale, systems used for mechanical characterizations struggle to provide complete three-dimensional coverage of individual specimens. Here, we combine an acoustically driven manipulation device with a micro-force sensor to freely rotate biological samples and quantify mechanical properties at multiple regions of interest within a specimen.


Fig: Setup for acoustic manipulation and micro-indentation

The versatility of this tool is demonstrated through the analysis of singleLilium longiflorum pollen grains, in combination with numerical simulations, and individual Caenorhabditis elegans nematodes. It reveals local variations in apparent stiffness for single specimens, providing previously inaccessible information and datasets on mechanical properties that serve as the basis for biophysical modelling and allow deeper insights into the biomechanics of these living systems.

Läubli, N.F., Burri, J.T., Marquard, J. et al. 3D mechanical characterization of single cells and small organisms using acoustic manipulation and force microscopy. Nat Commun 12, 2583 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-22718-8

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