Enforcing Order on Signaling

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Science  12 Mar 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5971, pp. 1335-1336
DOI: 10.1126/science.1187865

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Mechanical forces provide important regulatory information that directs development. Even throughout adulthood, tissue homeostasis remains tightly linked to tensional homeostasis, the perturbation of which often leads to chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and cancer (1, 2). Environmental cues affect cell behavior by triggering signal transduction networks, but how cells actually integrate mechanical cues with these biochemical networks remains largely unresolved. On page 1380 in this issue, Salaita et al. describe how mechanical force, spatial organization of large clusters of cell surface receptors, and receptor-mediated signal transduction are coupled (3). Disruption of this mechanical-coupling mechanism in tumor cells may explain the invasive characteristics of aggressive, metastatic cancers.