Focal adhesions as mechanosensors: the two-spring model.
Authors: Schwarz US, Erdmann T, Bischofs IB.
CellNetworks People: Schwarz Ulrich
Journal: Biosystems. 2006 Feb-Mar;83(2-3):225-32

Adhesion-dependent cells actively sense the mechanical properties of their environment through mechanotransductory processes at focal adhesions, which are integrin-based contacts connecting the extracellular matrix to the cytoskeleton. Here we present first steps towards a quantitative understanding of focal adhesions as mechanosensors. It has been shown experimentally that high levels of force are related to growth of and signaling at focal adhesions. In particular, activation of the small GTPase Rho through focal adhesions leads to the formation of stress fibers. Here we discuss one way in which force might regulate the internal state of focal adhesions, namely by modulating the internal rupture dynamics of focal adhesions. A simple two-spring model shows that the stiffer the environment, the more efficient cellular force is built up at focal adhesions by molecular motors interacting with the actin filaments.