Forcing cells into shape: the mechanics of actomyosin contractility

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2015 Aug;16(8):486-98. doi: 10.1038/nrm4012. Epub 2015 Jul 1.


Actomyosin-mediated contractility is a highly conserved mechanism for generating mechanical stress in animal cells and underlies muscle contraction, cell migration, cell division and tissue morphogenesis. Whereas actomyosin-mediated contractility in striated muscle is well understood, the regulation of such contractility in non-muscle and smooth muscle cells is less certain. Our increased understanding of the mechanics of actomyosin arrays that lack sarcomeric organization has revealed novel modes of regulation and force transmission. This work also provides an example of how diverse mechanical behaviours at cellular scales can arise from common molecular components, underscoring the need for experiments and theories to bridge the molecular to cellular length scales.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Actomyosin / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Shape*
  • Humans
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / physiology
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / ultrastructure
  • Protein Structure, Quaternary


  • Actomyosin