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In a cell-populated collagen gel, intrinsic fiber structure visible in differential interference contrast images can provide markers for an in situ strain gauge to quantify cell-gel mechanics, while optical sections of fluorescent protein distribution capture cytoskeletal kinematics. Mechanics quantification can be derived automatically from timelapse differential interference contrast images using a Deformation Quantification and Analysis software package accessible online at In our studies, fibroblast contractile machinery was observed to function entirely within pseudopods, while GFP-alpha-actinin concentrated in pseudopod tips and cortex. Complex strain patterns around individual cells showed instances of both elastic and inelastic strain transmission, suggesting a role in observed long-range alignment of cells.


Journal article


Biophys J

Publication Date





2715 - 2727


3T3 Cells, Animals, Biomimetics, Cell Movement, Collagen, Culture Techniques, Cytochalasin D, Elasticity, Extracellular Matrix, Imaging, Three-Dimensional, Internet, Mechanotransduction, Cellular, Mice, Motion, Nocodazole, Software, Stress, Mechanical