How to Measure Molecular Forces in Cells: A Guide to Evaluating Genetically-Encoded FRET-Based Tension Sensors

Cell Mol Bioeng. 2015;8(1):96-105. doi: 10.1007/s12195-014-0368-1. Epub 2014 Dec 2.


The ability of cells to sense and respond to mechanical forces is central to a wide range of biological processes and plays an important role in numerous pathologies. The molecular mechanisms underlying cellular mechanotransduction, however, have remained largely elusive because suitable methods to investigate subcellular force propagation were missing. Here, we review recent advances in the development of biosensors that allow molecular force measurements. We describe the underlying principle of currently available techniques and propose a strategy to systematically evaluate new Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based biosensors.

Keywords: Biosensors; Fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy; Förster resonance energy transfer; Mechanobiology; Mechanotransduction.