On the crawling of animal cells

Science  21 May 1993:
Vol. 260, Issue 5111, pp. 1086-1094
DOI: 10.1126/science.8493552


Cells crawl in response to external stimuli by extending and remodeling peripheral elastic lamellae in the direction of locomotion. The remodeling requires vectorial assembly of actin subunits into linear polymers at the lamella's leading edge and the crosslinking of the filaments by bifunctional gelation proteins. The disassembly of the crosslinked filaments into short fragments or monomeric subunits away from the leading edge supplies components for the actin assembly reactions that drive protrusion. Cellular proteins that respond to lipid and ionic signals elicited by sensory cues escort actin through this cycle in which filaments are assembled, crosslinked, and disassembled. One class of myosin molecules may contribute to crawling by guiding sensory receptors to the cell surface, and another class may contribute by imposing contractile forces on actin networks in the lamellae.

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