Formation of lamellipodia and the retraction of ruffles are essential activities during motility and migration of eukaryotic cells. We have developed a computer-assisted stroboscopic method for the continuous observation of cell dynamics (stroboscopic analysis of cell dynamics, SACED) that allows one to analyze changes in lamellipodia protrusion and ruffle retraction with high resolution in space and time. To demonstrate the potential of this method we analyzed keratinocytes in culture, unstimulated or stimulated with epidermal growth factor (EGF), which is known to induce cell motility and migration. Keratinocytes stimulated with EGF exhibited a 2.6-fold increase in their migration velocity, which coincided with enhanced ruffle retraction velocity (144%) and increased ruffle frequency (135%) compared to control cells. We also recorded an enhanced frequency of lamellipodia (135%), whereas the velocity of lamellipodia protrusion remained unchanged. These results on ruffle and lamellipodia dynamics in epidermal cells show that SACED is at least equal to established methods in terms of accuracy. SACED is, however, advantageous concerning resolution in time and therefore allows one to analyze the activity of lamellipodia and ruffles in as yet unknown detail. Moreover, SACED offers two opportunities that render this technique superior to established methods: First, several parameters relevant to cell motility can be analyzed simultaneously. Second, a large number of cells can conveniently be examined, which facilitates the compilation of statistically significant data.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.