Mechanotransduction at focal adhesions: integrating cytoskeletal mechanics in migrating cells


Correspondence to: Jean-Cheng Kuo, Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei 11221, Taiwan.

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Focal adhesions (FAs) are complex plasma membrane-associated macromolecular assemblies that serve to physically connect the actin cytoskeleton to integrins that engage with the surrounding extracellular matrix (ECM). FAs undergo maturation wherein they grow and change composition differentially to provide traction and to transduce the signals that drive cell migration, which is crucial to various biological processes, including development, wound healing and cancer metastasis. FA-related signalling networks dynamically modulate the strength of the linkage between integrin and actin and control the organization of the actin cytoskeleton. In this review, we have summarized a number of recent investigations exploring how FA composition is affected by the mechanical forces that transduce signalling networks to modulate cellular function and drive cell migration. Understanding the fundamental mechanisms of how force governs adhesion signalling provides insights that will allow the manipulation of cell migration and help to control migration-related human diseases.