Stem cells mechanosense the stiffness of their microenvironment, which impacts differentiation. Although tissue hydration anti-correlates with stiffness, extracellular matrix (ECM) stiffness is clearly transduced into gene expression via adhesion and cytoskeleton proteins that tune fates. Cytoskeletal reorganization of ECM can create heterogeneity and influence fates, with fibrosis being one extreme.
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