Molecular dynamics simulations of heterogeneous cell membranes in response to uniaxial membrane stretches at high loading rates

LL Zhang and ZS Zhang and J Jasa and DL Li and RO Cleveland and M Negahban and A Jerusalem, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 7, 8316 (2017).

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-06827-3

The chemobiomechanical signatures of diseased cells are often distinctively different from that of healthy cells. This mainly arises from cellular structural/compositional alterations induced by disease development or therapeutic molecules. Therapeutic shock waves have the potential to mechanically destroy diseased cells and/or increase cell membrane permeability for drug delivery. However, the biomolecular mechanisms by which shock waves interact with diseased and healthy cellular components remain largely unknown. By integrating atomistic simulations with a novel multiscale numerical framework, this work provides new biomolecular mechanistic perspectives through which many mechanosensitive cellular processes could be quantitatively characterised. Here we examine the biomechanical responses of the chosen representative membrane complexes under rapid mechanical loadings pertinent to therapeutic shock wave conditions. We find that their rupture characteristics do not exhibit significant sensitivity to the applied strain rates. Furthermore, we show that the embedded rigid inclusions markedly facilitate stretch-induced membrane disruptions while mechanically stiffening the associated complexes under the applied membrane stretches. Our results suggest that the presence of rigid molecules in cellular membranes could serve as "mechanical catalysts" to promote the mechanical destructions of the associated complexes, which, in concert with other biochemical/medical considerations, should provide beneficial information for future biomechanical-mediated therapeutics.

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