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Gravit Space Biol Bull. 1997 Jun;10(2):49-55.

Integrins, tensegrity, and mechanotransduction.

Author information

1
Department of Pathology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
2
Harvard Med Sch, Boston, MA

Abstract

Physical forces, such as those due to gravity, play an important role in tissue development and remodeling. Yet, little is known about how individual cells sense mechanical signals or how they transduce them into a chemical response. Rather than listing the numerous signal pathways that have been found to be sensitive to mechanical stimulation, we need to place potential molecular signaling mechanisms within the context of the entire cell. The model presented is based on the concept that cells use tensegrity architecture to organize their cytoskeleton and stabilize their form. Studies with stick and string tensegrity cell models predict that living cells are hard-wired to respond immediately to external mechanical stresses. This hard-wiring exists in the form of discrete cytoskeletal filament networks that mechanically couple specific cell surface receptors, such as integrins, to nuclear matrix scaffolds and to potential transducing molecules that physically associate with the cytoskeleton. If these signaling molecules do function in a "solid-state", then mechanical stresses may be transduced into biochemical responses through force-dependent changes in cytoskeletal geometry or through local alterations in thermodynamic or kinetic parameters. Changes in cytoskeletal tension (prestress) also may play a role in signal amplification and adaptation. Recent experimental results are described which provide direct support for the tensegrity theory.

PMID:
11540119
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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