Document Type


Publication Date



The ability of cells to respond to external mechanical stimulation is a complex and robust process involving a diversity of molecular interactions. Although mechanotransduction has been heavily studied, many questions remain regarding the link between physical stimulation and biochemical response. Of significant interest has been the contribution of the transmembrane proteins involved, and integrins in particular, because of their connectivity to both the extracellular matrix and the cytoskeleton. Here, we demonstrate the existence of a mechanically based initiation molecule, syndecan-4. We first demonstrate the ability of syndecan-4 molecules to support cell attachment and spreading without the direct extracellular binding of integrins. We also examine the distribution of focal adhesion-associated proteins through controlling surface interactions of beads with molecular specificity in binding to living cells. Furthermore, after adhering cells to elastomeric membranes via syndecan-4-specific attachments we mechanically strained the cells via our mechanical stimulation and polymer surface chemical modification approach.We found ERK phosphorylation similar to that shown for mechanotransductive response for integrin-based cell attachments through our elastomeric membrane-based approach and optical magnetic twisting cytometry for syndecan-4. Finally, through the use of cytoskeletal disruption agents, this mechanical signaling was shown to be actin cytoskeleton dependent. We believe that these results will be of interest to a wide range of fields, including mechanotransduction, syndecan biology, and cell-material interactions.



Published Article/Book Citation

Bellin, Robert M. et al. “Defining the role of syndecan-4 in mechanotransduction using surface-modification approaches.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106 (2009): 22102 - 22107.