Translation of mechanical forces within ECM

We are creating a novel experimental methodology to investigate the local elastic and viscoelastic properties and forces within extracellular matrix (ECM) with well-defined global mechanical properties and under controlled tissue-level mechanical loading; and quantitatively assess the impact of tissue-level mechanical loading on the regulation of local cell contraction forces and ECM microenvironment. ECM provides the principal avenue for mechanochemical communication between tissue and cells. These signals play critical roles in establishing tissue structure-function relationships and controlling cell fate. To date, little is known about how mechanical forces are translated within the ECM from tissue to cellular level. Such kind of information is critical for the future expansion of the knowledge of cellular mechanotransduction within the context of living tissues and organisms.