The role of mechanical force as an important regulator of structure and function of mammalian cells, tissues, and organs has recently been recognized. However, mechanical overload is a pathogenesis or comorbidity existing in a variety of heart diseases, such as hypertension, aortic regurgitation and myocardial infarction. Physical stimuli sensed by cells are transmitted through intracellular signal transduction pathways resulting in altered physiological responses or pathological conditions. Emerging evidence from experimental studies indicate that β1-integrin and the angiotensin II type I (AT1) receptor play critical roles as mechanosensors in the regulation of heart contraction, growth and leading to heart failure. Integrin link the extracellular matrix and the intracellular cytoskeleton to initiate the mechanical signalling, whereas, the AT1 receptor could be activated by mechanical stress through an angiotensin-II-independent mechanism. Recent studies show that both Integrin and AT1 receptor and their downstream signalling factors including MAPKs, AKT, FAK, ILK and GTPase regulate heart function in cardiac myocytes. In this review we describe the role of mechanical sensors residing within the plasma membrane, mechanical sensor induced downstream signalling factors and its potential roles in cardiac contraction and growth.
Keywords: AT1 receptor; Cardiac function; Mechanosensing; Signalling; β1-integrin.