Single cell force profiling of human myofibroblasts reveals a biophysical spectrum of cell states.
Layton TB., Williams L., Colin-York H., McCann FE., Cabrita M., Feldmann M., Brown C., Xie W., Fritzsche M., Furniss D., Nanchahal J.
Mechanical force is a fundamental regulator of cell phenotype. Myofibroblasts are central mediators of fibrosis, a major unmet clinical need characterized by the deposition of excessive matrix proteins. Traction forces of myofibroblasts play a key role in remodelling the matrix and modulates the activities of embedded stromal cells. Here, we employ a combination of unsupervised computational analysis, cytoskeletal profiling and single cell traction force microscopy as functional readout to uncover how the complex spatiotemporal dynamics and mechanics of living human myofibroblast shape sub-cellular profiling of traction forces in fibrosis. We resolve distinct biophysical communities of myofibroblasts, and our results provide a new paradigm for studying functional heterogeneity in human stromal cells.