All cells sense and respond to various mechanical forces in and mechanical properties of their environment. To respond appropriately, cells must be able to sense the location, direction, strength and duration of these forces. Recent progress in mechanobiology has provided a better understanding of the mechanisms of mechanoresponses underlying many cellular and developmental processes. Various roles of mechanoresponses in development and tissue homeostasis have been elucidated, and many molecules involved in mechanotransduction have been identified. However, the whole picture of the functions and molecular mechanisms of mechanotransduction remains to be understood. Recently, novel mechanisms for sensing and transducing mechanical stresses via the cytoskeleton, cell–substrate and cell–cell adhesions and related proteins have been identified. In this review, we outline the roles of the cytoskeleton, cell–substrate and cell–cell adhesions, and related proteins in mechanosensing and mechanotransduction. We also describe the roles and regulation of Rho-family GTPases in mechanoresponses.

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