Mechanosensing refers to the ability of an organism to respond to changes in mechanical force on them or their environment. The mechanical stress can be in a variety of forms:
- Hydrostatic pressure, as in the case of deep ocean environments
- Fluid shear stress, as in the case of blood flowing through veins
- Direct force, as in the case of body weight on a bone
- Osmotic pressure, resulting from a difference in solute concentrations across a semi-permeable membrane
High hydrostatic pressure (HHP) can cause dissociation of multimeric proteins, decreased membrane fluidity, and and unfolding of monomeric proteins in extreme cases [biotech review]. In some cases, changes in mechanical stress result in differential gene expression driven by mechanosensitive promoters or repressors. Genes that have increased expression might include cold- and heat-shock and other stress response proteins, barostable synthases [vezzi ref?], or transporter proteins[add reference]. Downregulated genes might include nutrient transporters [Mal operan ref]. In other cases, porin proteins which provide ion diffusion pathways are opened in response to osmotic stress across the membrane.