Use the force: membrane tension as an organizer of cell shape and motility

Trends Cell Biol. 2013 Feb;23(2):47-53. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2012.09.006. Epub 2012 Nov 2.


Many cell phenomena that involve shape changes are affected by the intrinsic deformability of the plasma membrane (PM). Far from being a passive participant, the PM is now known to physically, as well as biochemically, influence cell processes ranging from vesicle trafficking to actin assembly. Here we review current understanding of how changes in PM tension regulate cell shape and movement, as well as how cells sense PM tension.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Caveolae / metabolism
  • Caveolae / physiology
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / physiology*
  • Cell Movement*
  • Cell Polarity
  • Cell Shape*
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology
  • Elasticity
  • Endocytosis
  • Exocytosis
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular
  • Myosins / metabolism
  • Stress, Physiological*


  • Actins
  • Myosins