The field of mechanobiology has witnessed an explosive growth over the past several years as interest has greatly increased in understanding how mechanical forces are transduced by cells and how cells migrate, adhere and generate traction. Actin, a highly abundant and anomalously conserved protein, plays a large role in forming the dynamic cytoskeleton that is so essential for cell form, motility and mechanosensitivity. While the actin filament (F-actin) has been viewed as dynamic in terms of polymerization and depolymerization, new results suggest that F-actin itself may function as a highly dynamic tension sensor. This property may help explain the unusual conservation of actin's sequence, as well as shed further light on actin's essential role in structures from sarcomeres to stress fibers.
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