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Methods Cell Biol. 2007;83:443-72.

Tools to study cell mechanics and mechanotransduction.

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Vascular Biology Program, Department of Pathology, Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Analysis of how cells sense and respond to mechanical stress has been limited by the availability of techniques that can apply controlled mechanical forces to living cells while simultaneously measuring changes in cell and molecular distortion, as well as alterations of intracellular biochemistry. We have confronted this challenge by developing new engineering methods to measure and manipulate the mechanical properties of cells and their internal cytoskeletal and nuclear frameworks, and by combining them with molecular cell biological techniques that rely on microscopic analysis and real-time optical readouts of biochemical signaling. In this chapter, we describe techniques like microcontact printing, magnetic twisting cytometry, and magnetic pulling cytometry that can be systematically used to study the molecular basis of cellular mechanotransduction.

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