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      Interfibrillar stiffening of echinoderm mutable collagenous tissue demonstrated at the nanoscale

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          Abstract

          The mutable collagenous tissue (MCT) of echinoderms (e.g., sea cucumbers and starfish) is a remarkable example of a biological material that has the unique attribute, among collagenous tissues, of being able to rapidly change its stiffness and extensibility under neural control. However, the mechanisms of MCT have not been characterized at the nanoscale. Using synchrotron small-angle X-ray diffraction to probe time-dependent changes in fibrillar structure during in situ tensile testing of sea cucumber dermis, we investigate the ultrastructural mechanics of MCT by measuring fibril strain at different chemically induced mechanical states. By measuring a variable interfibrillar stiffness (EIF), the mechanism of mutability at the nanoscale can be demonstrated directly. A model of stiffness modulation via enhanced fibrillar recruitment is developed to explain the biophysical mechanisms of MCT. Understanding the mechanisms of MCT quantitatively may have applications in development of new types of mechanically tunable biomaterials.

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          Most cited references 58

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proc Natl Acad Sci USA
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                October 18 2016
                October 18 2016
                October 18 2016
                October 05 2016
                : 113
                : 42
                : E6362-E6371
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.1609341113
                5081653
                27708167
                © 2016

                Free to read

                http://www.pnas.org/site/misc/userlicense.xhtml

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