Phenomenological modeling of durotaxis
Cells exhibit qualitatively different behaviors on substrates with different rigidities. The fact that cells are more polarized on the stiffer substrate motivates us to construct a two-dimensional cell with the distribution of focal adhesions dependent on substrate rigidities. This distribution affects the forces exerted by the cell and thereby determines its motion. Our model reproduces the experimental observation that the persistence time is higher on the stiffer substrate. This stiffness-dependent persistence will lead to durotaxis, the preference in moving towards stiffer substrates. This propensity is characterized by the durotaxis index first defined in experiments. We derive and validate a two-dimensional corresponding Fokker-Planck equation associated with our model. Our approach highlights the possible role of the focal adhesion arrangement in durotaxis.