Multiscale view of cytoskeletal mechanoregulation of cell and tissue polarity

Chen Luxenburg, Benjamin Geiger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability of cells to generate, maintain, and repair tissues with complex architecture, in which distinct cells function as coherent units, relies on polarity cues. Polarity can be described as an asymmetry along a defined axis, manifested at the molecular, structural, and functional levels. Several types of cell and tissue polarities were described in the literature, including front-back, apical-basal, anterior–posterior, and left-right polarity. Extensive research provided insights into the specific regulators of each polarization process, as well as into generic elements that affect all types of polarities. The actin cytoskeleton and the associated adhesion structures are major regulators of most, if not all, known forms of polarity. Actin filaments exhibit intrinsic polarity and their ability to bind many proteins including the mechanosensitive adhesion and motor proteins, such as myosins, play key roles in cell polarization. The actin cytoskeleton can generate mechanical forces and together with the associated adhesions, probe the mechanical, structural, and chemical properties of the environment, and transmit signals that impact numerous biological processes, including cell polarity. In this article we highlight novel mechanisms whereby the mechanical forces and actin-adhesion complexes regulate cell and tissue polarity in a variety of natural and experimental systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-284
Number of pages22
JournalHandbook of Experimental Pharmacology
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Actin
  • Adhesion
  • Mechanobiology
  • Myosin
  • Polarity
  • Tension

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics
  • Biochemistry


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