Cellular Biomechanics

The mechanics of cellular left and right

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Science  24 Apr 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6233, pp. 409
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6233.409-b

Cells need to know their own left and right in order to coordinate with neighboring cells in collective movement or embryonic development. To do so, each cell has to establish left/right asymmetry. Tee et al. studied actin organization in human cells to understand underlying mechanisms, using fluorescence and electron microscopy and simulations. Actin fibers forming the cellular skeleton rearranged from a symmetric to an asymmetric pattern through interplay between two types of fibers. The fibers stretching along the cell edge swirled towards the center, whereas the radially assembled fibers tilted unidirectionally. The contractile stress and rotational growth of the fibers drove the motions, while an actin cross-linking protein controlled the clockwise or anticlockwise directionality.

Nat. Cell Biol. 10.1038/ncb3137 (2015).

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