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Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2015 Aug;16(8):486-98. doi: 10.1038/nrm4012. Epub 2015 Jul 1.

Forcing cells into shape: the mechanics of actomyosin contractility.

Author information

1] Department of Biomedical Engineering, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA. [2] Systems Biology Institute, Yale University, West Haven, Connecticut 06516, USA.
Department of Physics, Institute for Biophysical Dynamics and James Franck Institute, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.
Université Paris-Sud, CNRS, LPTMS, UMR 8626, Orsay 91405, France.


Actomyosin-mediated contractility is a highly conserved mechanism for generating mechanical stress in animal cells and underlies muscle contraction, cell migration, cell division and tissue morphogenesis. Whereas actomyosin-mediated contractility in striated muscle is well understood, the regulation of such contractility in non-muscle and smooth muscle cells is less certain. Our increased understanding of the mechanics of actomyosin arrays that lack sarcomeric organization has revealed novel modes of regulation and force transmission. This work also provides an example of how diverse mechanical behaviours at cellular scales can arise from common molecular components, underscoring the need for experiments and theories to bridge the molecular to cellular length scales.

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