We study a Brownian dynamics simulation model of a biopolymeric shell deformed by axial forces exerted at opposing poles. The model exhibits two distinct, linear force-extension regimes, with the response to small tensions governed by linear elasticity and the response to large tensions governed by an effective spring constant that scales with radius as R−0.25. When extended beyond the initial linear elastic regime, the shell undergoes a hysteretic, temperature-dependent buckling transition. We experimentally observe this buckling transition by stretching and imaging the lamina of isolated cell nuclei. Furthermore, the interior contents of the shell can alter mechanical response and buckling, which we show by simulating a model for the nucleus that quantitatively agrees with our micromanipulation experiments stretching individual nuclei.
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