Indexed on: 02 Apr '10Published on: 02 Apr '10Published in: Journal of the Royal Society, Interface / the Royal Society
Multicellular structures are held together by cell adhesions. Forces that act upon these adhesions play an integral role in dynamically re-shaping multicellular structures during development and disease. Here, we describe different modes by which mechanical forces are transduced in a multicellular context: (i) indirect mechanosensing through compliant substratum, (ii) cytoskeletal 'tug-of-war' between cell-matrix and cell-cell adhesions, (iii) cortical contractility contributing to line tension, (iv) stresses associated with cell proliferation, and (v) forces mediating collective migration. These modes of mechanotransduction are recurring motifs as they play a key role in shaping multicellular structures in a wide range of biological contexts. Tissue morphodynamics may ultimately be understood as different spatio-temporal combinations of a select few multicellular transformations, which in turn are driven by these mechanotransduction motifs that operate at the bicellular to multicellular length scale.