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Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2005 Aug;15(4):223-30.

Mechanical signals regulating extracellular matrix gene expression in fibroblasts.

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ITI-Research Institute for Dental and Skeletal Biology, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.


Mechanical forces are essential for connective tissue homeostasis. The extracellular matrix (ECM) plays a key role in the transmission of forces generated by the organism (e.g. muscle contraction) and externally applied (e.g. gravity). The expression of specific ECM proteins such as collagens and tenascin-C, as well as of matrix metalloproteinases, involved in their turnover, is influenced by mechanical stimuli. The precise mechanisms by which mechanical strains are translated into chemical signals and lead to differential gene expression are however not fully understood. Cell-matrix adhesion sites are good candidates for hosting a "mechanosensory switch", as they transmit forces from the ECM to the cytoskeleton and vice versa by physically linking the cytoskeleton to the ECM. Integrins, transmembrane proteins located to these adhesion sites, have been shown to trigger a set of internal signaling cascades after mechanical stimulation. We have shown that the expression level of tenascin-C directly correlates with externally applied mechanical stress, as well as with RhoA/RhoA-dependent kinase-mediated cytoskeletal tension. Presumably other genes are regulated in a similar manner. The changes in ECM composition and mechanical properties derived from mechanical stress are relevant in medical intervention after ligament and tendon injury.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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