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Compression and dilation of the membrane-cortex layer generates rapid changes in cell shape

Authors
Journal
The Journal of Cell Biology
0021-9525
Publisher
The Rockefeller University Press
Publication Date
Volume
200
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201204157
Keywords
  • Research Articles
  • Article
Disciplines
  • Biology

Abstract

Rapid changes in cellular morphology require a cell body that is highly flexible yet retains sufficient strength to maintain structural integrity. We present a mechanism that meets both of these requirements. We demonstrate that compression (folding) and subsequent dilation (unfolding) of the coupled plasma membrane–cortex layer generates rapid shape transformations in rounded cells. Two- and three-dimensional live-cell images showed that the cyclic process of membrane-cortex compression and dilation resulted in a traveling wave of cortical actin density. We also demonstrate that the membrane-cortex traveling wave led to amoeboid-like cell migration. The compression–dilation hypothesis offers a mechanism for large-scale cell shape transformations that is complementary to blebbing, where the plasma membrane detaches from the actin cortex and is initially unsupported when the bleb extends as a result of cytosolic pressure. Our findings provide insight into the mechanisms that drive the rapid morphological changes that occur in many physiological contexts, such as amoeboid migration and cytokinesis.

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