Topical Review - Living Systems
Regulating life after death: how mechanical communication mediates the epithelial response to apoptosis
Division of Cell and Developmental Biology, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland, 4072, St. Lucia, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
2 Centre for Cancer Biology, SA Pathology and University of South Australia, 5000, Adelaide, Australia
3 The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland, 4102, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Accepted: 10 January 2022
Published online: 25 January 2022
It is increasingly evident that cells in tissues and organs can communicate with one another using mechanical forces. Such mechanical signalling can serve as a basis for the assembly of cellular communities. For this to occur, there must be local instabilities in tissue mechanics that are the source of the signals, and mechanisms for changes in mechanical force to be transmitted and detected within tissues. In this review, we discuss these principles using the example of cell death by apoptosis, when it occurs in epithelia. This elicits the phenomenon of apical extrusion, which can rapidly eliminate apoptotic cells by expelling them from the epithelium. Apoptotic extrusion requires that epithelial cells detect the presence of nearby apoptotic cells, something which can be elicited by the mechanotransduction of tensile instabilities caused by the apoptotic cell. We discuss the central role that adherens junctions can play in the transmission and detection of mechanical signals from apoptotic cells.
© The Author(s) 2022
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