Stem cells interact with biochemical and biophysical signals in their extracellular environment. The biophysical signals are transduced to the stem cells either through the underlying extracellular matrix or externally applied forces. Increasing evidence has shown that these biophysical cues such as substrate stiffness and topography can direct stem cell differentiation and determine the cell fate. The mechanism of the biophysically induced differentiation is not understood; however, several key signaling components have been demonstrated to be involved in the force-mediated differentiation. This review will focus on focal adhesions, cytoskeletal contractility, Rho GTPase signaling and nuclear regulation in connection with biophysically induced differentiation. We will briefly introduce the important components of the mechanotransduction machinery, and the recent developments in the study of force-dependent stem cell differentiation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
- Molecular Medicine
- Cell Biology
- Medicine (miscellaneous)