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      Biophysical Tools to Study Cellular Mechanotransduction

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          Abstract

          The cell membrane is the interface that volumetrically isolates cellular components from the cell’s environment. Proteins embedded within and on the membrane have varied biological functions: reception of external biochemical signals, as membrane channels, amplification and regulation of chemical signals through secondary messenger molecules, controlled exocytosis, endocytosis, phagocytosis, organized recruitment and sequestration of cytosolic complex proteins, cell division processes, organization of the cytoskeleton and more. The membrane’s bioelectrical role is enabled by the physiologically controlled release and accumulation of electrochemical potential modulating molecules across the membrane through specialized ion channels (e.g., Na +, Ca 2+, K + channels). The membrane’s biomechanical functions include sensing external forces and/or the rigidity of the external environment through force transmission, specific conformational changes and/or signaling through mechanoreceptors (e.g., platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule (PECAM), vascular endothelial (VE)-cadherin, epithelial (E)-cadherin, integrin) embedded in the membrane. Certain mechanical stimulations through specific receptor complexes induce electrical and/or chemical impulses in cells and propagate across cells and tissues. These biomechanical sensory and biochemical responses have profound implications in normal physiology and disease. Here, we discuss the tools that facilitate the understanding of mechanosensitive adhesion receptors. This article is structured to provide a broad biochemical and mechanobiology background to introduce a freshman mechano-biologist to the field of mechanotransduction, with deeper study enabled by many of the references cited herein.

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          Most cited references 278

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              Focal adhesion kinase: in command and control of cell motility.

              A central question in cell biology is how membrane-spanning receptors transmit extracellular signals inside cells to modulate cell adhesion and motility. Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a crucial signalling component that is activated by numerous stimuli and functions as a biosensor or integrator to control cell motility. Through multifaceted and diverse molecular connections, FAK can influence the cytoskeleton, structures of cell adhesion sites and membrane protrusions to regulate cell movement.
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                Author and article information

                Affiliations
                [1 ]Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
                [2 ]Department of Mechanical Engineering and Energy Processes, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, IL 62901, USA
                [3 ]Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529, USA
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: ismaeelmuhamed@ 123456ncsu.edu (I.M.); farhan.chowdhury@ 123456siu.edu (F.C.); vmarutha@ 123456odu.edu (V.M.); Tel.: +1-919-515-8002 (I.M.); +1-618-453-7833 (F.C.); +1-757-683-4978 (V.M.)
                Contributors
                Role: Academic Editor
                Journal
                Bioengineering (Basel)
                Bioengineering (Basel)
                bioengineering
                Bioengineering
                MDPI
                2306-5354
                07 February 2017
                March 2017
                : 4
                : 1
                bioengineering-04-00012
                10.3390/bioengineering4010012
                5590431
                © 2017 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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