Reconstitution of amoeboid motility in vitro identifies a motor-independent mechanism for cell body retraction
Movie S2, Related to Figure 1. Simultaneous Growth and Shrinkage Exhibited by a Comet Tail Fiber. (232.9Kb)
Roberts, Thomas M.
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Crawling movement in eukaryotic cells requires coordination of leading edge protrusion with cell body retraction [1-3]. Protrusion is driven by actin polymerization along the leading edge . The mechanism of retraction is less clear; myosin contractility may be involved in some cells  but is not essential in others [6-9]. In Ascaris sperm, protrusion and retraction are powered by the major sperm protein (MSP) motility system instead of the conventional actin apparatus [10-11]. These cells lack motor proteins  and so are well-suited to explore motor-independent mechanisms of retraction. We reconstituted protrusion and retraction simultaneously in MSP filament meshworks, called fibers, that assemble behind plasma membrane-derived vesicles. Retraction is triggered by depolymerization of complete filaments in the rear of the fiber . The surviving filaments reorganize to maintain their packing density. By packing fewer filaments into a smaller volume the depolymerizing network shrinks and thereby generates sufficient force to move an attached load. Thus, this work provides direct evidence for motorindependent retraction in the reconstituted MSP motility system of nematode sperm. This mechanism could also apply to actin-based cells and may explain reports of cells that crawl even when their myosin activity is compromised.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2011. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Elsevier B.V. for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Current Biology 21 (2011): 1727-1731, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2011.08.047.