The Role of Mechanical Forces in Guiding Tissue Differentiation

  • Sean P. Sheehy
  • Kevin Kit ParkerEmail author
Part of the Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine book series (STEMCELL)


Stem cell differentiation is regulated by a diverse array of extracellular cues. Recent evidence suggests that mechanical interactions between extracellular matrix (ECM) and cell surface receptors as well as physical interactions between neighboring cells play important roles in stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. It is also becoming clear that the ECM effects cellular behavior through many physical mechanisms, such as ECM geometry, elasticity, and the propagation of mechanical signals to intracellular compartments. Considerable effort is being targeted at developing biomaterials that exploit cellular microenvironments in guiding cells to desired phenotypes and organizing these into functional tissues. Improved understanding of the interactions between stem cells and their physical environment should yield new insight into the mechanisms governing their activity and allow the fabrication of artificial ECM to promote tissue development.


Stem Cell Adherens Junction Stem Cell Differentiation Stem Cell Niche Notch Receptor 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Computer-aided design


Extracellular matrix


Linker of nucleoskeleton and cytoskeleton


Myocardin-related transcription factors


Mesenchymal stem cells


Serum response factor


Striated muscle activator of Rho signaling


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Disease Biophysics Group, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied SciencesHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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