September 27, 2010

One might think that the higher the magnification we use to see inside a cell, the more we can know. However, some of the best discoveries come when we take a step back and see how cells move. The image today is a great example of this.

Cell migration is a complex process requiring rapid changes in the regulation and mechanics of the cytoskeleton. Dictyostelium is an amoeba that migrates using similar mechanisms to mammalian cells, so is frequently used as a model for understanding chemotactic migration…a recent paper does just this. Image above shows chemotaxis of Dictyostelium cells towards a signal placed in a pipette tip. The normal cells (left) move towards the tip after 20 minutes, as seen by their elongated shape and membrane protrusions reaching towards the tip. Without a protein called NHE1 that helps regulate pH (middle), the cells no longer migrate towards the pipette tip and have a globular shape. However, once an actin-interacting protein called Aip1 was introduced to cells lacking NHE1 (right), they were able to restore chemotaxis towards the pipette tip.

Reference: Chang-Hoon Choi, Hitesh Patel, and Diane L. Barber. Authors’ Molecular Biology of the Cell paper can be found here.

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