A long-standing puzzle in the rheology of living cells is the origin of the experimentally observed long-time stress relaxation. The mechanics of the cell is largely dictated by the cytoskeleton, which is a biopolymer network consisting of transient crosslinkers, allowing for stress relaxation over time. Moreover, these networks are internally stressed due to the presence of molecular motors. In this work we propose a theoretical model that uses a mode-dependent mobility to describe the stress relaxation of such prestressed transient networks. Our theoretical predictions agree favorably with experimental data of reconstituted cytoskeletal networks and may provide an explanation for the slow stress relaxation observed in cells.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation Division of Materials Research (Grant No. DMR-1826623) and the National Science Foundation Center for Theoretical Biological Physics (Grant No. PHY-2019745). The authors acknowledge helpful discussions with G. Koenderink and Y. Mulla.
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