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Trends Biotechnol. 2001 Oct;19(10):416-23.

Structural insights into the mechanical regulation of molecular recognition sites.

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Department of Bioengineering, University of Washington, Seattle, 98195, USA.


Intriguing experimental and computational data are emerging to suggest that mechanical forces regulate the functional states of some proteins by stretching them into nonequilibrium states. Using the extracellular matrix protein fibronectin as an example, we discuss molecular design principles that might control the exposure of a protein's recognition sites, and/or their relative distances, in a force-dependent manner. Fibronectin regulates many cellular functions by binding directly to integrins. Although integrins have a key role in the transduction of force across the cell membrane by coupling the extracellular matrix to the cytoskeleton, the studies reviewed here suggest that fibronectin might be one of the molecules responsible for the initial transformation of mechanical force into a biochemical signal.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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