Research ArticleCell Biology

A FAK-Cas-Rac-Lamellipodin Signaling Module Transduces Extracellular Matrix Stiffness into Mechanosensitive Cell Cycling

Sci. Signal.  17 Jun 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 330, pp. ra57
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2004838

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Cell Proliferation in Hard Environments

The extracellular matrix that surrounds cells in tissues and organs is not always of the same rigidity. The stiffness of the extracellular matrix can be changed by disease or injury. In damaged blood vessels, the extracellular matrix becomes stiffer around the site of damage; the smooth muscle cells that surround blood vessels migrate and proliferate to repair the damage. Bae et al. identified a signaling pathway that included the enzyme Rac and the cell migration protein lamellipodin, and that triggered proliferation in cells growing on surfaces that mimicked very stiff extracellular matrix. Mice that lacked Rac in their smooth muscle cells did not efficiently repair damage to blood vessels. Thus, lamellipodin is important in not only regulating cellular migration, but also the cell cycle in response to mechanical cues from the extracellular matrix.