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Exp Mech. 2009 Feb 1;49(1):153-164.

Protein Mechanics: A New Frontier in Biomechanics.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA, e-mail:


Proteins play essential roles in all aspects of cellular processes, such as biosynthesis, division, growth, motility, metabolism, signaling, and transmission of genetic information. Proteins, however, could deform under mechanical forces, thus altering their biological functions. Here we present protein deformation as a possible molecular basis for mechanosensing and mechanotransduction, elucidate the important features of protein mechanics including protein deformation mode and dynamics, illustrate how protein deformation could alter biological function, and describe the important roles of protein deformation in force-sensing, force transducing and mechanochemical coupling in cells. The experimental and modeling challenges in protein mechanics are discussed.

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