When plated onto a substrate, cells spread. Many cell types, including smooth muscle cells and fibroblasts, spread more effectively on stiffer substrates, and a simple empirical relationship has been determined that relates a cell's spread area to the substrate stiffness. In addition, some crawling cells when plated onto a stiff substrate will not migrate onto soft substrate, a process called "durotaxis". Here we show that the resistive force predicted previously for dynamic adhesion molecules can account for both of these mechanosensory effects.
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