At the heart of mechanobiology is the relationship between a cell and its environment. The ability of cells to sense and respond to their immediate environment is dependent on dynamic subcellular systems capable of generating and transducing mechanical force, and integrating that force into biochemical and genomic pathways.

The cytoskeleton, in particular, acts as a load-bearing network in cells and has a major role in transducing mechanical signals throughout cells. Not only does it act as a bridge between the extracellular environment and the cell interior, but it can transduce signals in a fast and efficient manner due to the multitude of signaling molecules that bind to the cytoskeleton and are activated by mechanical stimuli. By compartmentalizing its subcellular functions, the cell is able to function efficiently, in larger multi-cellular tissue environments.

In the pages listed below we explore the fundamental cellular and molecular processes relevant to the field of Mechanobiology.

What is Mechanobiology?

Mechanobiology describes how physical factors, such as forces and mechanics, are able to influence biological systems at the molecular, cellular, and tissue level. The fundamental process which drives mechanobiology is mechanotransduction, the ability of cells to convert mechanical stimuli into biochemical signals. For example, a cell can sense and respond to the three-dimensional physical properties of its environment. These parameters include matrix density, geometry, and substrate rigidity. After sensing these mechanical stimuli, the cell can convert them into biochemical signals which enables specific cellular responses such as migration, proliferation, and differentiation.

Cytoskeleton Dynamics

What is mechanosignaling?