Cellular Mechanotransduction: From Tension to Function, 2018

Topics: mechanotransduction, nucleoskeleton, focal adhesion, mechanobiology, mechanosensor

Authors: F Martino, A R. Perestrelo, V Vinarský, S Pagliari and G Forte


Living cells are constantly exposed to mechanical stimuli arising from the surrounding extracellular matrix (ECM) or from neighboring cells. The intracellular molecular processes through which such physical cues are transformed into a biological response are collectively dubbed as mechanotransduction and are of fundamental importance to help the cell timely adapt to the continuous dynamic modifications of the microenvironment. Local changes in ECM composition and mechanics are driven by a feed forward interplay between the cell and the matrix itself, with the first depositing ECM proteins that in turn will impact on the surrounding cells. As such, these changes occur regularly during tissue development and are a hallmark of the pathologies of aging. Only lately, though, the importance of mechanical cues in controlling cell function (e.g., proliferation, differentiation, migration) has been acknowledged. Here we provide a critical review of the recent insights into the molecular basis of cellular mechanotransduction, by analyzing how mechanical stimuli get transformed into a given biological response through the activation of a peculiar genetic program. Specifically, by recapitulating the processes involved in the interpretation of ECM remodeling by Focal Adhesions at cell-matrix interphase, we revise the role of cytoskeleton tension as the second messenger of the mechanotransduction process and the action of mechano-responsive shuttling proteins converging on stage and cell-specific transcription factors. Finally, we give few paradigmatic examples highlighting the emerging role of malfunctions in cell mechanosensing apparatus in the onset and progression of pathologies.

Related research articles