Cell Biology

How to Make a Bleb

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Science  23 Mar 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5512, pp. 2277
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5512.2277b

Apoptosis (programmed cell death) is used to remodel tissues and organs during development. Apoptotic cells undergo a characteristic series of morphological changes, including contraction of the whole cell and formation of blebs in the surface membrane.

Coleman et al. and Sebbagh et al. have examined some of the mechanisms involved in bleb formation and find that the activities of an effector kinase of Rho (a GTPase), called ROCK1, are necessary and sufficient. This kinase is cleaved by the protease caspase-3 to produce a truncated molecule with constitutive activity, which then phosphorylates the light chain of the motor protein myosin, which favors contractile interactions with actin and bleb formation. The significance of the blebbing process in the intact organism for efficient clearance of dead cells is unclear, but it is known that inhibition of blebbing itself does not cancel the other consequences of triggering the apoptotic pathway. — SMH

Nature Cell Biol.3, 339; 346 (2001).

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