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Science 316 (5828): 1148-1153

Copyright © 2007 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Forces and Bond Dynamics in Cell Adhesion

Evan A. Evans1,2*, and David A. Calderwood3

Abstract: 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.

1 Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA.
2 Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 2A6.
3 Department of Pharmacology and Interdepartmental Program in Vascular Biology and Transplantation, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: evans{at}

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