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Science 333 (6048): 1388-1390

Copyright © 2011 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Getting to the Heart of Mechanotransduction

Cecilia Hidalgo, and Paulina Donoso

Mechanotransduction, the process of converting mechanical stimuli into cellular responses, enables cells to produce signals that regulate a wide range of physiological responses. In the beating heart, for example, the stretching of muscle cells causes the release of chemical signals that regulate heart function, and studies in mice and humans have suggested a connection between faulty stretch-sensing mechanisms and heart disease (1). The mechanisms underlying such processes, however, have been unclear. On page 1440 of this issue, Prosser et al. (2) use a novel method that involves precisely stretching single heart muscle cells (cardiomyocytes) that have been glued to microscopic glass rods to provide some clarity. They demonstrate that a moderate stretch during the cell's relaxed state (diastole) can trigger a burst of calcium "sparks." They also show that this process is defective in a life-threatening muscle disease.

Physiology and Biophysics Program, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Brain Neuroscience Institute and Center of Molecular Studies of the Cell, Faculty of Medicine, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile.

E-mail: chidalgo{at}

X-ROS signalling is enhanced and graded by cyclic cardiomyocyte stretch.
B. L. Prosser, C. W. Ward, and W. J. Lederer (2013)
Cardiovasc Res 98, 307-314
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