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      Mechanical forces direct stem cell behaviour in development and regeneration

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      Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology

      Springer Nature

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          Matrix elasticity directs stem cell lineage specification.

          Microenvironments appear important in stem cell lineage specification but can be difficult to adequately characterize or control with soft tissues. Naive mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are shown here to specify lineage and commit to phenotypes with extreme sensitivity to tissue-level elasticity. Soft matrices that mimic brain are neurogenic, stiffer matrices that mimic muscle are myogenic, and comparatively rigid matrices that mimic collagenous bone prove osteogenic. During the initial week in culture, reprogramming of these lineages is possible with addition of soluble induction factors, but after several weeks in culture, the cells commit to the lineage specified by matrix elasticity, consistent with the elasticity-insensitive commitment of differentiated cell types. Inhibition of nonmuscle myosin II blocks all elasticity-directed lineage specification-without strongly perturbing many other aspects of cell function and shape. The results have significant implications for understanding physical effects of the in vivo microenvironment and also for therapeutic uses of stem cells.
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            Role of YAP/TAZ in mechanotransduction.

            Cells perceive their microenvironment not only through soluble signals but also through physical and mechanical cues, such as extracellular matrix (ECM) stiffness or confined adhesiveness. By mechanotransduction systems, cells translate these stimuli into biochemical signals controlling multiple aspects of cell behaviour, including growth, differentiation and cancer malignant progression, but how rigidity mechanosensing is ultimately linked to activity of nuclear transcription factors remains poorly understood. Here we report the identification of the Yorkie-homologues YAP (Yes-associated protein) and TAZ (transcriptional coactivator with PDZ-binding motif, also known as WWTR1) as nuclear relays of mechanical signals exerted by ECM rigidity and cell shape. This regulation requires Rho GTPase activity and tension of the actomyosin cytoskeleton, but is independent of the Hippo/LATS cascade. Crucially, YAP/TAZ are functionally required for differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells induced by ECM stiffness and for survival of endothelial cells regulated by cell geometry; conversely, expression of activated YAP overrules physical constraints in dictating cell behaviour. These findings identify YAP/TAZ as sensors and mediators of mechanical cues instructed by the cellular microenvironment.
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              Cell shape, cytoskeletal tension, and RhoA regulate stem cell lineage commitment.

              Commitment of stem cells to different lineages is regulated by many cues in the local tissue microenvironment. Here we demonstrate that cell shape regulates commitment of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) to adipocyte or osteoblast fate. hMSCs allowed to adhere, flatten, and spread underwent osteogenesis, while unspread, round cells became adipocytes. Cell shape regulated the switch in lineage commitment by modulating endogenous RhoA activity. Expressing dominant-negative RhoA committed hMSCs to become adipocytes, while constitutively active RhoA caused osteogenesis. However, the RhoA-mediated adipogenesis or osteogenesis was conditional on a round or spread shape, respectively, while constitutive activation of the RhoA effector, ROCK, induced osteogenesis independent of cell shape. This RhoA-ROCK commitment signal required actin-myosin-generated tension. These studies demonstrate that mechanical cues experienced in developmental and adult contexts, embodied by cell shape, cytoskeletal tension, and RhoA signaling, are integral to the commitment of stem cell fate.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology
                Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol
                Springer Nature
                1471-0072
                1471-0080
                November 8 2017
                November 8 2017
                :
                :
                10.1038/nrm.2017.108
                © 2017
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