Balancing forces: architectural control of mechanotransduction

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2011 May;12(5):308-19. doi: 10.1038/nrm3112.


All cells exist within the context of a three-dimensional microenvironment in which they are exposed to mechanical and physical cues. These cues can be disrupted through perturbations to mechanotransduction, from the nanoscale-level to the tissue-level, which compromises tensional homeostasis to promote pathologies such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. The mechanisms of such perturbations suggest that a complex interplay exists between the extracellular microenvironment and cellular function. Furthermore, sustained disruptions in tensional homeostasis can be caused by alterations in the extracellular matrix, allowing it to serve as a mechanically based memory-storage device that can perpetuate a disease or restore normal tissue behaviour.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology*
  • Homeostasis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Junctions / physiology*
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Stress, Mechanical