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Cell Transplant. 2014 Jan;23(1):1-11. doi: 10.3727/096368912X659925.

In search of the pivot point of mechanotransduction: mechanosensing of stem cells.

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Stem Cell Research Center, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan.


Stem cells are undifferentiated cells with the ability to self-renew and to differentiate into diverse specialized cell types; hence, they have great potential in tissue engineering and cell therapies. In addition to biochemical regulation, the physical properties of the microenvironments, such as scaffold topography, substrate stiffness, and mechanical forces, including fluid shear stress, compression, and tensile strain, can also regulate the proliferation and differentiation of stem cells. Upon physical stimuli, cytoskeleton rearrangements are expected to counterbalance the extracellular mechanical forces, trigger signaling cascades, and eventually cause epigenetic modifications. This article mainly focuses on the mechanosensing, which is the upstream event of stem cell mechanotransduction and the downstream one of physical stimuli. Putative mechanosensors such as ion channels, integrins, and cell membrane as well as primary cilia are discussed. Because mechanical environment is an important stem cell niche, identification of mechanosensors not only can elucidate the mechanisms of mechanotransduction and fate commitments but also bring new prospects of the mechanical control as well as drug development for clinical application.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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