Actin cables and epidermal movement in embryonic wound healing

Nature. 1992 Nov 12;360(6400):179-83. doi: 10.1038/360179a0.


Skin wounds in embryos heal rapidly and perfectly. Even though the epidermis appears to be stretched taut over the surface of a structure such as a growing limb bud, its response to wounding is to close over the lesion, rather than to gape more widely. In adult wounds, the epidermis seems to migrate by means of lamellipodia, crawling over the exposed connective tissue. But in embryonic wounds we do not see lamellipodia. The epidermis at the edge of the wound looks smooth, as though under a circumferential tension. Here we show that a cable of filamentous actin appears to run continuously around most of the wound margin. It is confined to the single row of basal cells at the free edge of the epidermis. We suggest that the actin cable acts as a contractile 'purse string' to close up the embryonic wound.

MeSH terms

  • Actins / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Chick Embryo
  • Epidermis / pathology*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Skin / injuries*
  • Wound Healing / physiology*


  • Actins