Special Reviews

Forces and Bond Dynamics in Cell Adhesion

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Science  25 May 2007:
Vol. 316, Issue 5828, pp. 1148-1153
DOI: 10.1126/science.1137592

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Adhesion of a biological cell to another cell or the extracellular matrix involves complex couplings between cell biochemistry, structural mechanics, and surface bonding. The interactions are dynamic and act through association and dissociation of bonds between very large molecules at rates that change considerably under stress. Combining molecular cell biology with single-molecule force spectroscopy provides a powerful tool for exploring the complexity of cell adhesion, that is, how cell signaling processes strengthen adhesion bonds and how forces applied to cell-surface bonds act on intracellular sites to catalyze chemical processes or switch molecular interactions on and off. Probing adhesion receptors on strategically engineered cells with force during functional stimulation can reveal key nodes of communication between the mechanical and chemical circuitry of a cell.

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