An outstanding problem in cell biology is how cells sense mechanical forces and how those forces affect cellular functions. Various biophysical and biochemical mechanisms have been invoked to answer this question. A growing body of evidence indicates that the deformable cytoskeleton (CSK), an intracellular network of interconnected filamentous biopolymers, provides a physical basis for transducing mechanical signals into biochemical signals. Therefore, to understand how mechanical forces regulate cellular functions, it is important to know how cells respond to changes in the CSK force balance and to identify the underlying mechanisms that control transmission of mechanical forces throughout the CSK and bring it to equilibrium. Recent developments of new experimental techniques for measuring cell mechanical properties and novel theoretical models of cellular mechanics make it now possible to identify and quantitate the contributions of various CSK structures to the overall balance of mechanical forces in the cell. This review focuses on engineering approaches that have been used in the past two decades in studies of the mechanics of the CSK.
- Actin microfilaments
- Intermediate filaments
- Shear stiffness
- Strain hardening
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation