Collection |

Mechanics of cells and tissues

This collection of recent articles from Nature Research journals focuses on the latest efforts to understand the roles of mechanical forces in animal cells and tissues. It highlights the broad involvement of mechanical forces in different biological contexts, their roles in development, physiology and disease, and discusses how these forces are sensed and transduced to produce biologically-relevant responses. The collection also showcases new technical approaches to study and modulate mechanobiology, which in the future could be used control cell fate and behaviour for therapeutic benefits. This collection is aimed for researchers from a broad range of disciplines — biologists, physicists and theoreticians alike — and we hope that it will foster inter-disciplinary initiatives to study biological systems.

Reviews

  • Nature Cell Biology | Review Article

    Mechanical forces influence both cytoplasmic and nuclear events. Kirby and Lammerding discuss recent evidence suggesting that the nucleus itself is a mechanosensor and methods to study nuclear mechanotransduction.

    • Tyler J. Kirby
    •  &  Jan Lammerding
  • Nature Materials | Perspective

    Advances in biomaterials have enabled control over desired cell responses. Here, the authors highlight key analytical and bioprocessing techniques, outlining a framework for incorporating these tools into designing functionally optimal biomaterials.

    • Max Darnell
    •  &  David J. Mooney
  • Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology | Review Article

    Coordinated movements of cell collectives are important for morphogenesis, tissue regeneration and cancer cell dissemination. Recent studies, mainly using novel in vitro approaches, have provided new insights into the mechanisms governing this multicellular coordination, highlighting the key role of the mechanosensitivity of adherens junctions and mechanical cell–cell coupling in collective cell behaviours.

    • Benoit Ladoux
    •  &  René-Marc Mège
  • Nature Cell Biology | Review Article

    Friedl and co-authors discuss how migrating cells sense and respond to tissue mechanics, and how cells in turn modify their surroundings.

    • Sjoerd van Helvert
    • , Cornelis Storm
    •  &  Peter Friedl
  • Nature Reviews Materials | Review Article

    Mechanical forces and electrical fields are crucial for cellular signalling and can be both inducers and indicators of disease. This Review highlights advances in nanoscale, in vivo, optical probes, discussing spatial and temporal resolution, stability and stimuli sensitivity in bioimaging.

    • Randy D. Mehlenbacher
    • , Rea Kolbl
    • , Alice Lay
    •  &  Jennifer A. Dionne
  • Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology | Review Article

    Physical cues regulate stem cell fate and function during embryonic development and in adult tissues. The biophysical and biochemical properties of the stem cell microenvironment can be precisely manipulated using synthetic niches, which provide key insights into how mechanical stimuli regulate stem cell function and can be used to maintain and guide stem cells for regenerative therapies.

    • Kyle H. Vining
    •  &  David J. Mooney

Primary research

  • Nature Materials | Letter

    The mechanism by which cell geometry regulates cell signalling is reported to be modulated by lipid rafts within the plasma membrane, which are now shown to be responsible for geometry-dependent mesenchymal stem cell differentiation.

    • Thomas C. von Erlach
    • , Sergio Bertazzo
    • , Michele A. Wozniak
    • , Christine-Maria Horejs
    • , Stephanie A. Maynard
    • , Simon Attwood
    • , Benjamin K. Robinson
    • , Hélène Autefage
    • , Charalambos Kallepitis
    • , Armando del Río Hernández
    • , Christopher S. Chen
    • , Silvia Goldoni
    •  &  Molly M. Stevens
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) fate can be mechanically regulated by substrate stiffness but this is difficult to control in a 3D hydrogel. Here the authors identify miRNAs that change expression in response to substrate stiffness and RhoA signalling and show that they can bias MSC fate in a 3D soft hydrogel.

    • Jessica E. Frith
    • , Gina D. Kusuma
    • , James Carthew
    • , Fanyi Li
    • , Nicole Cloonan
    • , Guillermo A. Gomez
    •  &  Justin J. Cooper-White
  • Nature | Article

    The cryo-electron microscopy structure of full-length mouse Piezo1 reveals six Piezo repeats, and 26 transmembrane helices per protomer, and shows that a kinked helical beam and anchor domain link the Piezo repeats to the pore and control gating allosterically.

    • Kei Saotome
    • , Swetha E. Murthy
    • , Jennifer M. Kefauver
    • , Tess Whitwam
    • , Ardem Patapoutian
    •  &  Andrew B. Ward
  • Nature Cell Biology | Letter

    Ingallina et al. show that mutant p53 is protected from degradation in response to matrix stiffness in a manner dependent on RhoA geranylgeranylation and actomyosin dynamics.

    • Eleonora Ingallina
    • , Giovanni Sorrentino
    • , Rebecca Bertolio
    • , Kamil Lisek
    • , Alessandro Zannini
    • , Luca Azzolin
    • , Luisa Ulloa Severino
    • , Denis Scaini
    • , Miguel Mano
    • , Fiamma Mantovani
    • , Antonio Rosato
    • , Silvio Bicciato
    • , Stefano Piccolo
    •  &  Giannino Del Sal

Technical articles and Protocols

  • Nature Biomedical Engineering | Article

    An ultrathin, needle-shaped piezoelectric microsystem that can be injected or mounted onto conventional biopsy needles measures variations in tissue modulus in real time and can thus be used to distinguish abnormal from healthy tissue.

    • Xinge Yu
    • , Heling Wang
    • , Xin Ning
    • , Rujie Sun
    • , Hassan Albadawi
    • , Marcela Salomao
    • , Alvin C. Silva
    • , Yang Yu
    • , Limei Tian
    • , Ahyeon Koh
    • , Chan Mi Lee
    • , Aditya Chempakasseril
    • , Peilin Tian
    • , Matt Pharr
    • , Jianghong Yuan
    • , Yonggang Huang
    • , Rahmi Oklu
    •  &  John A. Rogers
  • Nature Biomedical Engineering | Article

    A microtechnology involving force sensors embedded in elastomers for cell culture enables the high-throughput measurement of single-cell force generation from contractile cells in a scalable and highly parallelized manner.

    • Ivan Pushkarsky
    • , Peter Tseng
    • , Dylan Black
    • , Bryan France
    • , Lyndon Warfe
    • , Cynthia J. Koziol-White
    • , William F. Jester Jr
    • , Ryan K. Trinh
    • , Jonathan Lin
    • , Philip O. Scumpia
    • , Sherie L. Morrison
    • , Reynold A. Panettieri Jr
    • , Robert Damoiseaux
    •  &  Dino Di Carlo
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Purely elastic biomimetic soft materials are used to characterize the mechanical response of cells, but do not resemble real tissues. Here the authors develop a viscoelastic solid hydrogel, based on polyacrylamide, that can be tuned to closely resemble soft tissue, and show the influence of viscous dissipation on cellular mechanical sensing.

    • Elisabeth E. Charrier
    • , Katarzyna Pogoda
    • , Rebecca G. Wells
    •  &  Paul A. Janmey
  • Nature Methods | Brief Communication

    Molecular force microscopy employs a combination of fluorescence polarization microscopy and molecular tension sensors to determine the orientation of cellular forces. The technology is demonstrated for integrin-mediated forces in platelets and fibroblasts.

    • Joshua M Brockman
    • , Aaron T Blanchard
    • , Victor Pui-Yan Ma
    • , Wallace D Derricotte
    • , Yun Zhang
    • , Meredith E Fay
    • , Wilbur A Lam
    • , Francesco A Evangelista
    • , Alexa L Mattheyses
    •  &  Khalid Salaita
  • Nature Materials | Article

    Angiogenesis has been implicated in fibrotic diseases of the liver. Here, the authors developed microniches that mimic angiogenesis during different stages of liver fibrosis, and demonstrate the role of mechanotransduction in fibrogenesis.

    • Longwei Liu
    • , Zhifeng You
    • , Hongsheng Yu
    • , Lyu Zhou
    • , Hui Zhao
    • , Xiaojun Yan
    • , Dulei Li
    • , Bingjie Wang
    • , Lu Zhu
    • , Yuzhou Xu
    • , Tie Xia
    • , Yan Shi
    • , Chenyu Huang
    • , Wei Hou
    •  &  Yanan Du
  • Nature Methods | Article

    A genetically encoded tension sensor module for measuring molecular forces at 3–5 pN along with tools for multiplexed tension sensing and data analysis reveal an intramolecular tension gradient across talin-1 during cell adhesion.

    • Pia Ringer
    • , Andreas Weißl
    • , Anna-Lena Cost
    • , Andrea Freikamp
    • , Benedikt Sabass
    • , Alexander Mehlich
    • , Marc Tramier
    • , Matthias Rief
    •  &  Carsten Grashoff