Background: Cellular differentiation occurs in a complicated microenvironment containing
multiple components including soluble factors and physical cues. In addition to biochemical composition,
physical cues are also crucial in determining cellular behaviors.
Objective: To better understand the interaction between physical signals and cells, we discuss the effects
of physical cues on cellular behaviors, especially chondrogenic differentiation in vitro. Furthermore,
the mechanisms by which these physical signals are transmitted from the extracellular matrix
into the cell are also considered.
Results: Physical cues can dramatically regulate specific cellular functions in cartilage tissue engineering.
Integrin and FAs act as mechano-sensors to transmit physical cues from the ECM into cytoskeleton-
signaling network. Meanwhile, the RhoA/ROCK signaling pathway and YAP/TAZ play indispensable
roles in cell and ECM linkages.
Conclusion: The investigation of physical cues clarifies cellular behaviors. This information can be
applied to tissue engineering scaffold and biological material production in the future.