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RhoA Regulates Calcium-Independent Periodic Contractions of the Cell Cortex

By Nancy Costigliola, Maryna T. Kapustina, Gabriel E. Weinreb, Andrew Monteith, Zenon Rajfur, Timothy C. Elston and Ken Jacobson


When microtubules are depolymerized in spreading cells, they experience morphological oscillations characterized by a period of about a minute, indicating that normal interactions between the microfilament and microtubule systems have been significantly altered. This experimental system provides a test bed for the development of both fine- and coarse-grained models of complex motile processes, but such models need to be adequately informed by experiment. Using criteria based on Fourier transform analysis, we detect spontaneous oscillations in spreading cells. However, their amplitude and tendency to operate at a single frequency are greatly enhanced by microtubule depolymerization. Knockdown of RhoA and addition of various inhibitors of the downstream effector of RhoA, Rho kinase, block oscillatory behavior. Inhibiting calcium fluxes from endoplasmic reticulum stores and from the extracellular medium does not significantly affect the ability of cells to oscillate, indicating that calcium plays a subordinate regulatory role compared to Rho. We characterized the dynamic structure of the oscillating cell by light, fluorescence, and electron microscopy, showing how oscillating cells are dynamically polarized in terms of their overall morphology, f-actin and phosphorylated myosin light chain distribution, and nuclear position and shape. Not only will these studies guide future experiments, they will also provide a framework for the development of refined mathematical models of the oscillatory process

Topics: Biological Systems and Multicellular Dynamics
Publisher: The Biophysical Society
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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