Molecular and Cellular Biomechanics  book cover
1st Edition

Molecular and Cellular Biomechanics

Edited By

Bradley Layton

ISBN 9789814316835
Published March 18, 2015 by Jenny Stanford Publishing
232 Pages 16 Color & 26 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book bridges the gap between life sciences and physical sciences by providing several perspectives on cellular and molecular mechanics on a fundamental level. It begins with a general introduction to the scales and terms that are used in the field of cellular and molecular biomechanics and then moves from the molecular scale to the tissue scale. It discusses various tissues or cellular systems through the chapters written by prominent engineers and physicists working in various fields of biomechanics.

"Big picture" items, such as the number of atoms in cells and the number of cells in an organism, are discussed, followed by several of the physical laws that play a central role in nanoscale biomechanics, including the mechanics of the nucleus and its associated molecules. The book provides several case studies in atomic force microscopy and examines the physical relationship between living cells and laboratory substrata. It delves deeply into the molecular mechanisms of axonal growth, transport, and repair and provides a mechanistic framework for understanding the underlying molecular conditions that contribute to heart disease. While the quantitative and straightforward language of the book will help the engineering community grasp the concepts better and utilize them effectively, the questions given in each chapter will encourage upper-level undergraduate students, graduate students, or those generally interested in understanding cellular and molecular mechanics to dig deeper into the material. The complimentary solutions manual is available for qualified instructors upon request.

Table of Contents


Brief overview of numbers and scales

History of cell mechanics

Outline of the book


Mechanics of Single Molecules and Single Proteins

Macromolecules, small molecules, and machines: How are they alike? How do they differ?

Thermal energy, equipartition, and the Boltzmann distribution

Thermal ratchets: what are they? A practical definition

Detailed balance

Entropy and enthalpy

Two ways to model a chemomechanical transition: macromechanical view versus statistical mechanics view – when do they apply?



Nucleus Mechanics



Whole nucleus properties


Nanoscale Imaging and Modeling

The structures of entropy partitioning

Atomic force microscopy

Further Considerations


Cell-substrate Interactions


Effect of substrate stiffness and matrix ligand on cell morphology

Morphology: Integration of biochemical and biophysical factors

Effect of substrate stiffness and matrix ligand on cell motility

Motility: Integration of biochemical and biophysical factors

Effect of substrate stiffness and matrix ligand on cell mechanics

Cell mechanics: Integration of biochemical and biophysical factors

Changes in substrate stiffness in disease

Cell-Substrate Mechanics: Conclusions

Axonal Transport and Neuromechanics


Structural organization within the neuron

Axonal Transport of the Cytoskeleton


Summary and Outlook

Implications for Disease – Valvular Fibrosis and the Myofibroblast


The Myofibroblast

Mechanical Regulation of Valvular Fibrosis




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Bradley E. Layton is associate professor in the Applied Computing and Engineering Technology Department and an affiliated faculty in the Biophysics and Biochemistry Program at the University of Montana, USA. He earned his PhD in biomedical engineering and MS in mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan, USA. He also holds an SB in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, and a Professional Engineer’s license. Prof. Layton is an editor for the Institute of Electrical Engineering and Electronics and Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, and a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering and the Order of the Engineer. He is an avid bicycle builder, cyclist, kayaker, and a former member of the United States National Rowing Team. He lives with his wife and two children in the Rattlesnake Valley in Missoula, Montana.