By J. Matthew Barnes, Laralynne Przybyla, Valerie M. Weaver



All cells sense and integrate mechanical and biochemical cues from their environment to orchestrate organismal development and maintain tissue homeostasis. Mechanotransduction is the evolutionarily conserved process whereby mechanical force is translated into biochemical signals that can influence cell differentiation, survival, proliferation and migration to change tissue behavior. Not surprisingly, disease develops if these mechanical cues are abnormal or are misinterpreted by the cells – for example, when interstitial pressure or compression force aberrantly increases, or the extracellular matrix (ECM) abnormally stiffens. Disease might also develop if the ability of cells to regulate their contractility becomes corrupted. Consistently, disease states, such as cardiovascular disease, fibrosis and cancer, are characterized by dramatic changes in cell and tissue mechanics, and dysregulation of forces at the cell and tissue level can activate mechanosignaling to compromise tissue integrity and function, and promote disease progression. In this Commentary, we discuss the impact of cell and tissue mechanics on tissue homeostasis and disease, focusing on their role in brain development, homeostasis and neural degeneration, as well as in brain cancer.

Full text at this link. Doi: doi:10.1242/jcs.191742

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