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Dividing cells 'feel' their way out of warp
Date:9/10/2009

Once the cells were warped, the scientists monitored the movements of fluorescent-tagged myosin II and cortexillin I. Myosin, which normally accumulates in the middles of cells during division to help power that process, collected instead at the sites of disturbances made by the micropipette. Also amassing with myosin was cortexillin I, a so-called actin-crosslinking protein that, like glue, holds the toothpick-like filaments of a cell's housing together.

In the experiments, as soon as the two proteins accumulated to a certain level, the cells contracted, escaping the pipettes and assuming their original shapes. After the cells righted themselves, the proteins realigned along the cells' midlines and pinched to divide symmetrically into two daughter cells.

The researchers repeated the experiment using cells engineered to lack myosin II and then again with cells lacking cortexillin I. They discovered that cortexillin I responded to deformations except when myosin II was removed, and myosin II responded to deformations except when cortexillin I was removed.

"It's clear that the two need each other to operate as a cellular mechanosensor," Robinson says.


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Contact: Maryalice Yakutchik
myakutc1@jhmi.edu
443-287-2251
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert  

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