This Perspective paper advances a hypothesis of mechanosensation by endothelial cells in which the cell is a dynamic crowded system, driven by continuous enzyme activity, that can be shifted from one non-equilibrium state to another by external force. The nature of the shift will depend on the direction, rate of change, and magnitude of the force. Whether force induces a pathophysiological or physiological change in cell biology will be determined by whether the dynamics of a cellular system can accommodate the dynamics and magnitude of the force application. The complex interplay of non-static cytoskeletal structures governs internal cellular rheology, dynamic spatial reorganization, and chemical kinetics of proteins such as integrins, and a flaccid membrane that is dynamically supported; each may constitute the necessary dynamic properties able to sense external fluid shear stress and reorganize in two and three dimensions. The resulting reorganization of enzyme systems in the cell membrane and cytoplasm may drive the cell to a new physiological state. This review focuses on endothelial cell mechanotransduction of shear stress, but may lead to new avenues of investigation of mechanobiology in general requiring new tools for interrogation of mechanobiological systems, tools that will enable the synthesis of large amounts of spatial and temporal data at the molecular, cellular, and system levels.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering