Mechanical forces generated by living cells at the molecular level propagate to the cellular and organismal level and have profound consequences for embryogenesis. A direct result of force application is movement, as occurs in chromosome separation, cell migration, or tissue folding. A less direct, but equally important effect of force, is the activation of mechanosensitive signaling, which allows cells to probe their mechanical surrounding and communicate with each other over short and long distances. In this review, we focus on forces as a means of conveying information and affecting cell behavior during embryogenesis. We discuss four developmental processes that demonstrate the involvement of force in cell fate determination, growth, morphogenesis, and organogenesis, in a variety of model organisms. Finally, a generalizable pathway of mechanosensing and mechanotransduction in vivo is described, and we highlight similarities between morphogens and forces in patterning of embryos.
- Cell adhesion
- Cell fate