Mechanotransduction plays an important role in regulating cell functions and it is an active topic of research in biophysics. Despite recent advances in experimental and numerical techniques, the intrinsic multiscale nature imposes tremendous challenges for revealing the working mechanisms of mechanosensitive channels. Recently, a continuum-mechanics-based hierarchical modeling and simulation framework has been established and applied to study the mechanical responses and gating behaviors of a prototypical mechanosensitive channel, the mechanosensitive channel of large conductance (MscL) in bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli), from which several putative gating mechanisms have been tested and new insights are deduced. This article reviews these latest findings using the continuum mechanics framework and suggests possible improvements for future simulation studies. This computationally efficient and versatile continuum-mechanics-based protocol is poised to make contributions to the study of a variety of mechanobiology problems. © 2008 Humana Press Inc.
Bibliographical noteAcknowledgments: The work of YT and XC are supported by NSF CMS-0407743 and CMMI-0643726. The work of JY and QC are supported by the National Institutes of Health (R01-GM071428). QC also acknowledges a Research Fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Computational resources from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois are greatly appreciated.
- Continuum mechanics
- Mechanosensitive channel