Cell Mechanics: Integrating Cell Responses to Mechanical Stimuli

Annu Rev Biomed Eng. 2007;9:1-34. doi: 10.1146/annurev.bioeng.9.060906.151927.


Forces are increasingly recognized as major regulators of cell structure and function, and the mechanical properties of cells are essential to the mechanisms by which cells sense forces, transmit them to the cell interior or to other cells, and transduce them into chemical signals that impact a spectrum of cellular responses. Comparison of the mechanical properties of intact cells with those of the purified cytoskeletal biopolymers that are thought to dominate their elasticity reveal the extent to which the studies of purified systems can account for the mechanical properties of the much more heterogeneous and complex cell. This review summarizes selected aspects of current work on cell mechanics with an emphasis on the structures that are activated in cell-cell contacts, that regulate ion flow across the plasma membrane, and that may sense fluid flow that produces low levels of shear stress.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena / methods
  • Cell Membrane / physiology*
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology*
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology*
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Physical Stimulation / methods*
  • Stress, Mechanical