Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) perspectives in mechanobiology: implications for cell behaviour

Mechanobiology is a scientific interface discipline emerging from engineering and biology. With regard to tissue-regenerative cell-based strategies, mechanobiological concepts, including biomechanics as a target for cell and human mesenchymal stem cell behaviour, are on the march. Based on the periodontium as a paradigm, this mini-review discusses the key role of focal-adhesion kinase (FAK) in mechanobiology, since it is involved in mediating the transformation of environmental biomechanical signals into cell behavioural responses via mechanotransducing signalling cascades. These processes enable cells to adjust quickly to environmental cues, whereas adjustment itself relies on the specific intramolecular phosphorylation of FAK tyrosine residues and the multiple interactions of FAK with distinct partners. Furthermore, interaction-triggered mechanotransducing pathways govern the dynamics of focal adhesion sites and cell behaviour. Facets of behaviour not only include cell spreading and motility, but also proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. In translational terms, identified and characterized biomechanical parameters can be incorporated into innovative concepts of cell- and tissue-tailored clinically applied biomaterials controlling cell behaviour as desired.