Cell Blebbing in Confined Microfluidic Environments.
ABSTRACT: Migrating cells can extend their leading edge by forming myosin-driven blebs and F-actin-driven pseudopods. When coerced to migrate in resistive environments, Dictyostelium cells switch from using predominately pseudopods to blebs. Bleb formation has been shown to be chemotactic and can be influenced by the direction of the chemotactic gradient. In this study, we determine the blebbing responses of developed cells of Dictyostelium discoideum to cAMP gradients of varying steepness produced in microfluidic channels with different confining heights, ranging between 1.7 ?m and 3.8 ?m. We show that microfluidic confinement height, gradient steepness, buffer osmolarity and Myosin II activity are important factors in determining whether cells migrate with blebs or with pseudopods. Dictyostelium cells were observed migrating within the confines of microfluidic gradient channels. When the cAMP gradient steepness is increased from 0.7 nM/?m to 20 nM/?m, cells switch from moving with a mixture of blebs and pseudopods to moving only using blebs when chemotaxing in channels with confinement heights less than 2.4 ?m. Furthermore, the size of the blebs increases with gradient steepness and correlates with increases in myosin-II localization at the cell cortex. Reduction of intracellular pressure by high osmolarity buffer or inhibition of myosin-II by blebbistatin leads to a decrease in bleb formation and bleb size. Together, our data reveal that the protrusion type formed by migrating cells can be influenced by the channel height and the steepness of the cAMP gradient, and suggests that a combination of confinement-induced myosin-II localization and cAMP-regulated cortical contraction leads to increased intracellular fluid pressure and bleb formation.
Project description:Blebs and F-actin-driven pseudopods are alternative ways of extending the leading edge of migrating cells. We show that Dictyostelium cells switch from using predominantly pseudopods to blebs when migrating under agarose overlays of increasing stiffness. Blebs expand faster than pseudopods leaving behind F-actin scars, but are less persistent. Blebbing cells are strongly chemotactic to cyclic-AMP, producing nearly all of their blebs up-gradient. When cells re-orientate to a needle releasing cyclic-AMP, they stereotypically produce first microspikes, then blebs and pseudopods only later. Genetically, blebbing requires myosin-II and increases when actin polymerization or cortical function is impaired. Cyclic-AMP induces transient blebbing independently of much of the known chemotactic signal transduction machinery, but involving PI3-kinase and downstream PH domain proteins, CRAC and PhdA. Impairment of this PI3-kinase pathway results in slow movement under agarose and cells that produce few blebs, though actin polymerization appears unaffected. We propose that mechanical resistance induces bleb-driven movement in Dictyostelium, which is chemotactic and controlled through PI3-kinase.
Project description:Blebs and pseudopods can both power cell migration, with blebs often favored in tissues, where cells encounter increased mechanical resistance. To investigate how migrating cells detect and respond to mechanical forces, we used a "cell squasher" to apply uniaxial pressure to Dictyostelium cells chemotaxing under soft agarose. As little as 100 Pa causes a rapid (<10 s), sustained shift to movement with blebs rather than pseudopods. Cells are flattened under load and lose volume; the actin cytoskeleton is reorganized, with myosin II recruited to the cortex, which may pressurize the cytoplasm for blebbing. The transition to bleb-driven motility requires extracellular calcium and is accompanied by increased cytosolic calcium. It is largely abrogated in cells lacking the Piezo stretch-operated channel; under load, these cells persist in using pseudopods and chemotax poorly. We propose that migrating cells sense pressure through Piezo, which mediates calcium influx, directing movement with blebs instead of pseudopods.
Project description:Two motors can drive extension of the leading edge of motile cells: actin polymerization and myosin-driven contraction of the cortex, producing fluid pressure and the formation of blebs. Dictyostelium cells can move with both blebs and actin-driven pseudopods at the same time, and blebs, like pseudopods, can be orientated by chemotactic gradients. Here we ask how bleb sites are selected and how the two forms of projection cooperate. We show that membrane curvature is an important, yet overlooked, factor. Dictyostelium cells were observed moving under agarose, which efficiently induces blebbing, and the dynamics of membrane deformations were analyzed. Blebs preferentially originate from negatively curved regions, generated on the flanks of either extending pseudopods or blebs themselves. This is true of cells at different developmental stages, chemotaxing to either folate or cyclic AMP and moving with both blebs and pseudopods or with blebs only. A physical model of blebbing suggests that detachment of the cell membrane is facilitated in concave areas of the cell, where membrane tension produces an outward directed force, as opposed to pulling inward in convex regions. Our findings assign a role to membrane tension in spatially coupling blebs and pseudopods, thus contributing to clustering protrusions to the cell front.
Project description:Actin pseudopods induced by SCAR/WAVE drive normal migration and chemotaxis in eukaryotic cells. Cells can also migrate using blebs, in which the edge is driven forward by hydrostatic pressure instead of actin. In Dictyostelium discoideum, loss of SCAR is compensated by WASP moving to the leading edge to generate morphologically normal pseudopods. Here we use an inducible double knockout to show that cells lacking both SCAR and WASP are unable to grow, make pseudopods or, unexpectedly, migrate using blebs. Remarkably, amounts and dynamics of actin polymerization are normal. Pseudopods are replaced in double SCAR/WASP mutants by aberrant filopods, induced by the formin dDia2. Further disruption of the gene for dDia2 restores cells' ability to initiate blebs and thus migrate, though pseudopods are still lost. Triple knockout cells still contain near-normal F-actin levels. This work shows that SCAR, WASP, and dDia2 compete for actin. Loss of SCAR and WASP causes excessive dDia2 activity, maintaining F-actin levels but blocking pseudopod and bleb formation and migration.
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:Many amoeboid cells move by extending pseudopods. Here I present a new stochastic model for chemotaxis that is based on pseudopod extensions by Dictyostelium cells. In the absence of external cues, pseudopod extension is highly ordered with two types of pseudopods: de novo formation of a pseudopod at the cell body in random directions, and alternating right/left splitting of an existing pseudopod that leads to a persistent zig-zag trajectory. We measured the directional probabilities of the extension of splitting and de novo pseudopods in chemoattractant gradients with different steepness. Very shallow cAMP gradients can bias the direction of splitting pseudopods, but the bias is not perfect. Orientation of de novo pseudopods require much steeper cAMP gradients and can be more precise. These measured probabilities of pseudopod directions were used to obtain an analytical model for chemotaxis of cell populations. Measured chemotaxis of wild-type cells and mutants with specific defects in these stochastic pseudopod properties are similar to predictions of the model. These results show that combining splitting and de novo pseudopods is a very effective way for cells to obtain very high sensitivity to stable gradient and still be responsive to changes in the direction of the gradient.
Project description:Cells migrate by extending pseudopods such as lamellipodia and blebs. Although the signals leading to lamellipodia extension have been extensively investigated, those for bleb extension remain unclear. Here, we investigated signals for blebbing in Dictyostelium cells using a newly developed assay to induce blebbing. When cells were cut into two pieces with a microneedle, the anucleate fragments vigorously extended blebs. This assay enabled us to induce blebbing reproducibly, and analyses of knockout mutants and specific inhibitors identified candidate molecules that regulate blebbing. Blebs were also induced in anucleate fragments of leukocytes, indicating that this assay is generally applicable to animal cells. After cutting, microtubules in the anucleate fragments promptly depolymerized, followed by the extension of blebs. Furthermore, when intact cells were treated with a microtubule inhibitor, they frequently extended blebs. The depolymerization of microtubules induced the delocalization of inositol lipid phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-trisphosphate from the cell membrane. PI3 kinase-null cells frequently extended blebs, whereas PTEN-null cells extended fewer blebs. From these observations, we propose a model in which microtubules play a critical role in bleb regulation via inositol lipid metabolism.
Project description:Dictyostelium discoideum shows chemotaxis towards folic acid (FA) throughout vegetative growth, and towards cAMP during development. We determined the spatiotemporal localization of cytoskeletal and signaling molecules and investigated the FA-mediated responses in a number of signaling mutants to further our understanding of the core regulatory elements that are crucial for cell migration. Proteins enriched in the pseudopods during chemotaxis also relocalize transiently to the plasma membrane during uniform FA stimulation. In contrast, proteins that are absent from the pseudopods during migration redistribute transiently from the PM to the cytosol when cells are globally stimulated with FA. These chemotactic responses to FA were also examined in cells lacking the GTPases Ras C and G. Although Ras and phosphoinositide 3-kinase activity were significantly decreased in Ras G and Ras C/G nulls, these mutants still migrated towards FA, indicating that other pathways must support FA-mediated chemotaxis. We also examined the spatial movements of PTEN in response to uniform FA and cAMP stimulation in phospholipase C (PLC) null cells. The lack of PLC strongly influences the localization of PTEN in response to FA, but not cAMP. In addition, we compared the gradient-sensing behavior of polarized cells migrating towards cAMP to that of unpolarized cells migrating towards FA. The majority of polarized cells make U-turns when the cAMP gradient is switched from the front of the cell to the rear. Conversely, unpolarized cells immediately extend pseudopods towards the new FA source. We also observed that plasma membrane phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-trisphosphate [PtdIns(3,4,5)P3] levels oscillate in unpolarized cells treated with Latrunculin-A, whereas polarized cells had stable plasma membrane PtdIns(3,4,5)P3 responses toward the chemoattractant gradient source. Results were similar for cells that were starved for 4 hours, with a mixture of polarized and unpolarized cells responding to cAMP. Taken together, these findings suggest that similar components control gradient sensing during FA- and cAMP-mediated motility, but the response of polarized cells is more stable, which ultimately helps maintain their directionality.
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:How migrating cells differentially adapt and respond to extracellular track geometries remains unknown. Using intravital imaging, we demonstrate that invading cells exhibit dorsoventral (top-to-bottom) polarity in vivo. To investigate the impact of dorsoventral polarity on cell locomotion through different confining geometries, we fabricated microchannels of fixed cross-sectional area, albeit with distinct aspect ratios. Vertical confinement, exerted along the dorsoventral polarity axis, induces myosin II-dependent nuclear stiffening, which results in RhoA hyperactivation at the cell poles and slow bleb-based migration. In lateral confinement, directed perpendicularly to the dorsoventral polarity axis, the absence of perinuclear myosin II fails to increase nuclear stiffness. Hence, cells maintain basal RhoA activity and display faster mesenchymal migration. In summary, by integrating microfabrication, imaging techniques, and intravital microscopy, we demonstrate that dorsoventral polarity, observed in vivo and in vitro, directs cell responses in confinement by spatially tuning RhoA activity, which controls bleb-based versus mesenchymal migration.