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Trends Cell Biol. 2016 Jun;26(6):420-433. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2016.02.002. Epub 2016 Feb 23.

Front-Rear Polarization by Mechanical Cues: From Single Cells to Tissues.

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Institut Jacques Monod (IJM), CNRS UMR 7592 et Université Paris Diderot, Paris, France; Mechanobiology Institute, National University of Singapore, 5A Engineering Drive 1, 117411, Singapore. Electronic address:
Institut Jacques Monod (IJM), CNRS UMR 7592 et Université Paris Diderot, Paris, France. Electronic address:
Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia, Barcelona, Barcelona, 08028 Spain; Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA), 08010, Barcelona, Spain; CIBER de Bioingeniería, Biomateriales y Nanomedicina (CIBER-BBN), 28029 Madrid, Spain; Facultat de Medicina, Universitat de Barcelona, 08036 Barcelona, Spain. Electronic address:


Directed cell migration is a complex process that involves front-rear polarization, characterized by cell adhesion and cytoskeleton-based protrusion, retraction, and contraction of either a single cell or a cell collective. Single cell polarization depends on a variety of mechanochemical signals including external adhesive cues, substrate stiffness, and confinement. In cell ensembles, coordinated polarization of migrating tissues results not only from the application of traction forces on the extracellular matrix but also from the transmission of mechanical stress through intercellular junctions. We focus here on the impact of mechanical cues on the establishment and maintenance of front-rear polarization from single cell to collective cell behaviors through local or large-scale mechanisms.


cell forces; cell polarity; collective cell migration; mechanobiology; micropatterning; substrate stiffness

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