ABSTRACT: Blebbing occurs when the cytoskeleton detaches from the cell membrane, resulting in the pressure-driven flow of cytosol towards the area of detachment and the local expansion of the cell membrane. Recent interest has focused on cells that use blebbing for migrating through 3D fibrous matrices. In particular, metastatic cancer cells have been shown to use blebs for motility. A dynamic computational model of the cell is presented that includes mechanics of and the interactions between the intracellular fluid, the actin cortex and the cell membrane. The computational model is used to explore the relative roles in bleb formation time of cytoplasmic viscosity and drag between the cortex and the cytosol. A regime of values for the drag coefficient and cytoplasmic viscosity values that match bleb formation timescales is presented. The model results are then used to predict the Darcy permeability and the volume fraction of the cortex.
Project description:Membrane blebs are specialized cellular protrusions that play diverse roles in processes such as cell division and cell migration. Blebbing can be divided into three distinct phases: bleb nucleation, bleb growth, and bleb retraction. Following nucleation and bleb growth, the actin cortex, comprising actin, cross-linking proteins, and nonmuscle myosin II (MII), begins to reassemble on the membrane. MII then drives the final phase, bleb retraction, which results in reintegration of the bleb into the cellular cortex. There are three MII paralogues with distinct biophysical properties expressed in mammalian cells: MIIA, MIIB, and MIIC. Here we show that MIIA specifically drives bleb retraction during cytokinesis. The motor domain and regulation of the nonhelical tailpiece of MIIA both contribute to its ability to drive bleb retraction. These experiments have also revealed a relationship between faster turnover of MIIA at the cortex and its ability to drive bleb retraction.
Project description:Blebs are spherical membrane protrusions often observed during cell migration, cell spreading, cytokinesis, and apoptosis, both in cultured cells and in vivo. Bleb expansion is thought to be driven by the contractile actomyosin cortex, which generates hydrostatic pressure in the cytoplasm and can thus drive herniations of the plasma membrane. However, the role of cortical tension in bleb formation has not been directly tested, and despite the importance of blebbing, little is known about the mechanisms of bleb growth. In order to explore the link between cortical tension and bleb expansion, we induced bleb formation on cells with different tensions. Blebs were nucleated in a controlled manner by laser ablation of the cortex, mimicking endogenous bleb nucleation. Cortical tension was modified by treatments affecting the level of myosin activity or proteins regulating actin turnover. We show that there is a critical tension below which blebs cannot expand. Above this threshold, the maximal size of a bleb strongly depends on tension, and this dependence can be fitted with a model of the cortex as an active elastic material. Together, our observations and model allow us to relate bleb shape parameters to the underlying cellular mechanics and provide insights as to how bleb formation can be biochemically regulated during cell motility.
Project description:The P2X7 ATP receptor mediates the cytotoxic effect of extracellular ATP. P2X7-dependent cell death is heralded by dramatic plasma membrane bleb formation. Membrane blebbing is a complex phenomenon involving as yet poorly characterized intracellular pathways. We have investigated the effect of extracellular ATP on HEK293 cells transfected with the cytotoxic/pore-forming P2X7 receptor. Addition of ATP to P2X7-transfected, but not to wt P2X7-less, HEK293 cells caused massive membrane blebbing within 1-2 min. UTP, a nucleotide incapable of activating P2X7, had no early effects on cell shape and bleb formation. Bleb formation triggered by ATP was reversible and required extracellular Ca2+ and an intact cytoskeleton. Furthermore, it was completely prevented by preincubation with the P2X blocker oxidized ATP. It was recently observed that the ROCK protein is a key determinant of bleb formation. Preincubation of HEK293-P2X7 cells with the ROCK blocker Y-27632 completely prevented P2X7-dependent blebbing. Although ATP triggered cleavage of the ROCK I isoform in P2X7-transfected HEK293 cells, the wide range caspase inhibitor z-VAD-fluoromethylketone had no effect. These observations suggest that P2X7-dependent plasma membrane blebbing depends on the activation of the serine/threonine kinase ROCK I.
Project description:Blebs are pressure-driven cell protrusions implicated in cellular functions such as cell division, apoptosis, and cell motility, including motility of protease-inhibited cancer cells. Because of their mechanical nature, blebs inform us about general cell-surface mechanics, including membrane dynamics, pressure propagation throughout the cytoplasm, and the architecture and dynamics of the actin cortex. Mathematical models including detailed fluid dynamics have previously been used to understand bleb expansion. Here, we develop mathematical models in two and three dimensions on longer timescales that recapitulate the full bleb life cycle, including both expansion and healing by cortex reformation, in terms of experimentally accessible biophysical parameters such as myosin contractility, osmotic pressure, and turnover of actin and ezrin. The model provides conditions under which blebbing occurs, and naturally gives rise to traveling blebs. The model predicts conditions under which blebs travel or remain stationary, as well as the bleb traveling velocity, a quantity that has remained elusive in previous models. As previous studies have used blebs as reporters of membrane tension and pressure dynamics within the cell, we have used our system to investigate various pressure equilibration models and dynamic, nonuniform membrane tension to account for the shape of a traveling bleb. We also find that traveling blebs tend to expand in all directions unless otherwise constrained. One possible constraint could be provided by spatial heterogeneity in, for example, adhesion density.
Project description:Blebs are pressure-driven protrusions that play an important role in cell migration, particularly in three-dimensional environments. A bleb is initiated when the cytoskeleton detaches from the cell membrane, resulting in the pressure-driven flow of cytosol toward the area of detachment and local expansion of the cell membrane. Recent experiments involving blebbing cells have led to conflicting hypotheses regarding the timescale of intracellular pressure propagation. The interpretation of one set of experiments supports a poroelastic model of the cytoplasm that leads to slow pressure equilibration when compared to the timescale of bleb expansion. A different study concludes that pressure equilibrates faster than the timescale of bleb expansion. To address this discrepancy, a dynamic computational model of the cell was developed that includes mechanics of and the interactions among the cytoplasm, the actin cortex, the cell membrane, and the cytoskeleton. The model results quantify the relationship among cytoplasmic rheology, pressure, and bleb expansion dynamics, and provide a more detailed picture of intracellular pressure dynamics. This study shows the elastic response of the cytoplasm relieves pressure and limits bleb size, and that both permeability and elasticity of the cytoplasm determine bleb expansion time. Our model with a poroelastic cytoplasm shows that pressure disturbances from bleb initiation propagate faster than the timescale of bleb expansion and that pressure equilibrates slower than the timescale of bleb expansion. The multiple timescales in intracellular pressure dynamics explain the apparent discrepancy in the interpretation of experimental results.
Project description:Membrane blebbing accompanies various cellular processes, including cytokinesis, apoptosis, and cell migration, especially invasive migration of cancer cells. Blebs are extruded by intracellular pressure and are initially cytoskeleton-free, but they subsequently assemble the cytoskeleton, which can drive bleb retraction. Despite increasing appreciation of physiological significance of blebbing, the molecular and, especially, structural mechanisms controlling bleb dynamics are incompletely understood. We induced membrane blebbing in human HT1080 fibrosarcoma cells by inhibiting the Arp2/3 complex. Using correlative platinum replica electron microscopy, we characterize cytoskeletal architecture of the actin cortex in cells during initiation of blebbing and in blebs at different stages of their expansion-retraction cycle. The transition to blebbing in these conditions occurred through an intermediate filopodial stage, whereas bleb initiation was biased toward filopodial bases, where the cytoskeleton exhibited local weaknesses. Different stages of the bleb life cycle (expansion, pausing, and retraction) are characterized by specific features of cytoskeleton organization that provide implications about mechanisms of cytoskeleton assembly and bleb retraction.
Project description:Blebs are involved in various biological processes such as cell migration, cytokinesis, and apoptosis. While the expansion of blebs is largely an intracellular pressure-driven process, the retraction of blebs is believed to be driven by RhoA activation that leads to the reassembly of the actomyosin cortex at the bleb membrane. However, it is still poorly understood how RhoA is activated at the bleb membrane. Here, we provide evidence demonstrating that myosin II-interacting guanine nucleotide exchange factor (MYOGEF) is implicated in bleb retraction via stimulating RhoA activation and the reassembly of an actomyosin network at the bleb membrane during bleb retraction. Interaction of MYOGEF with ezrin, a well-known regulator of bleb retraction, is required for MYOGEF localization to retracting blebs. Notably, knockout of MYOGEF or ezrin not only disrupts RhoA activation at the bleb membrane, but also interferes with nonmuscle myosin II localization and activation, as well as actin polymerization in retracting blebs. Importantly, MYOGEF knockout slows down bleb retraction. We propose that ezrin interacts with MYOGEF and recruits it to retracting blebs, where MYOGEF activates RhoA and promotes the reassembly of the cortical actomyosin network at the bleb membrane, thus contributing to the regulation of bleb retraction.
Project description:In ischemic and traumatic brain injury, hyperactivated glutamate (N-methyl-D-aspartic acid, NMDA) and sodium (Nav) channels trigger excitotoxic neuron death. Na(+), Ca(++) and H2O influx into affected neurons elicits swelling (increased cell volume) and pathological blebbing (disassociation of the plasma membrane's bilayer from its spectrin-actomyosin matrix). Though usually conflated in injured tissue, cell swelling and blebbing are distinct processes. Around an injury core, salvageable neurons could be mildly swollen without yet having suffered the bleb-type membrane damage that, by rendering channels leaky and pumps dysfunctional, exacerbates the excitotoxic positive feedback spiral. Recognizing when neuronal inflation signifies non-lethal osmotic swelling versus blebbing should further efforts to salvage injury-penumbra neurons. To assess whether the mechanical properties of osmotically-swollen versus excitotoxically-blebbing neurons might be cytomechanically distinguishable, we measured cortical neuron elasticity (gauged via atomic force microscopy (AFM)-based force spectroscopy) upon brief exposure to hypotonicity or to excitotoxic agonists (glutamate and Nav channel activators, NMDA and veratridine). Though unperturbed by solution exchange per se, elasticity increased abruptly with hypotonicity, with NMDA and with veratridine. Neurons then invariably softened towards or below the pre-treatment level, sometimes starting before the washout. The initial channel-mediated stiffening bespeaks an abrupt elevation of hydrostatic pressure linked to NMDA or Nav channel-mediated ion/H2O fluxes, together with increased [Ca(++)]int-mediated submembrane actomyosin contractility. The subsequent softening to below-control levels is consistent with the onset of a lethal level of bleb damage. These findings indicate that dissection/identification of molecular events during the excitotoxic transition from stiff/swollen to soft/blebbing is warranted and should be feasible.
Project description:Cells often employ fast, pressure-driven blebs to move through tissues or against mechanical resistance, but how bleb sites are selected and directed to the cell front remains an open question. Previously, we found that chemotaxing Dictyostelium cells preferentially bleb from concave regions, where membrane tension facilitates membrane-cortex detachment. Now, through a novel modeling approach based on actual cell contours, we use cell geometry to predict where blebs will form in migrating cells. We find that cell geometry alone, and by implication, physical forces in the membrane, is sufficient to predict the location of blebs in rounded cells moving in a highly resistive environment. The model is less successful with more polarized cells moving against less resistance, but can be greatly improved by positing a front-to-back gradient in membrane-cortex adhesion. In accord with this prediction, we find that Talin, which links membrane and cortex, forms such a front-to-back gradient. Thus our model provides a means of dissecting out the role of physical forces in controlling where blebs form, and shows that in certain circumstances they could be the major determining factor.
Project description:Integrin signaling and membrane blebbing modulate cell adhesion, spreading, and migration. However, the relationship between integrin signaling and membrane blebbing is unclear. Here, we show that an integrin-ligand interaction induces both membrane blebbing and changes in membrane permeability. Sodium-proton exchanger 1 (NHE1) and sodium-calcium exchanger 1 (NCX1) are membrane proteins located on the bleb membrane. Inhibition of NHE1 disrupts membrane blebbing and decreases changes in membrane permeability. However, inhibition of NCX1 enhances cell blebbing; cells become swollen because of NHE1 induced intracellular sodium accumulation. Our study found that NHE1 induced sodium influx is a driving force for membrane bleb growth, while sodium efflux (and calcium influx) induced by NCX1 in a reverse mode results in membrane bleb retraction. Together, these findings reveal a novel function for NHE1 and NCX1 in membrane blebbing and permeability, and establish a link between membrane blebbing and integrin signaling.