Cells adapt to applied cyclic stretch (CS) to circumvent chronic activation of proinflammatory signaling. Currently, the molecular mechanism of the selective disassembly of actin stress fibers (SFs) in the stretch direction, which occurs at the early stage of the cellular response to CS, remains controversial. Here, we suggest that the mechanosensitive behavior of myosin II, a major cross-linker of SFs, primarily contributes to the directional disassembly of the actomyosin complex SFs in bovine vascular smooth muscle cells and human U2OS osteosarcoma cells. First, we identified that CS with a shortening phase that exceeds in speed the inherent contractile rate of individual SFs leads to the disassembly. To understand the biological basis, we investigated the effect of expressing myosin regulatory light-chain mutants and found that SFs with less actomyosin activities disassemble more promptly upon CS. We consequently created a minimal mathematical model that recapitulates the salient features of the direction-selective and threshold-triggered disassembly of SFs to show that disassembly or, more specifically, unbundling of the actomyosin bundle SFs is enhanced with sufficiently fast cell shortening. We further demonstrated that similar disassembly of SFs is inducible in the presence of an active LIM-kinase-1 mutant that deactivates cofilin, suggesting that cofilin is dispensable as opposed to a previously proposed mechanism.
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