By now it is abundantly clear that the cells of our bodies have the ability to move because of their actin cytoskeleton. From the earliest cell migrations in the embryo that serve to form the primordial tissue layers to the outgrowth of neurons, the contractions of our heart and skeletal muscles, and the metastasis of cancer cells, it is the regulated action of the actin cytoskeleton that propels our various motions. In this chapter we will examine the biochemical and cell biological mechanisms that control actin-based cell motility. We will see that cell migration along a substratum occurs in three fundamental phases that are exquisitely orchestrated in sequence. Cell migration occurs by an initial extension of the front edge of the cell, followed closely by contraction of the cell's rear end to push cytoplasm into the newly formed extension. As the cell's new leading edge extends, attachment sites are assembled on the cell floor, and extend through the plasma membrane to couple the migrating cell to the underlying surface. How the cell knows where to go, when to detach and reattach during the migration, and how to keep each process under strict control is a story well worth hearing, because it is motility and adhesion that make a multicellular life such as ours possible.
Table of Contents
How Cells Move
Regulation of the Actin Cytoskeleton
The Role of Myosin in Cell Motility
The Role of Cell Adhesion in Cell Motility
About the Author(s)Joel Pardee
, President, Neural Essence, formerly faculty and Dean for Graduate Research, Weill Cornell School of Medicine