Inhibition of myosin II triggers morphological transition and increased nuclear motility

Cytoskeleton (Hoboken). 2011 Jun;68(6):325-39. doi: 10.1002/cm.20515.


We investigate the effect of myosin II inhibition on cell shape and nuclear motility in cultures of mouse radial glia-like neural progenitor and rat glioma C6 cells. Instead of reducing nucleokinesis, the myosin II inhibitor blebbistatin provokes an elongated bipolar morphology and increased nuclear motility in both cell types. When myosin II is active, time-resolved traction force measurements indicate a pulling force between the leading edge and the nucleus of C6 cells. In the absence of myosin II activity, traction forces during nucleokinesis are diminished below the sensitivity threshold of our assay. By visualizing the centrosome position in C6 cells with GFP-centrin, we show that in the presence or absence of myosin II activity, the nucleus tends to overtake or lag behind the centrosome, respectively. We interpret these findings with the help of a simple viscoelastic model of the cytoskeleton consisting active contractile and passive compressed elements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Cell Nucleus / ultrastructure
  • Cell Polarity
  • Cell Shape*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Centrosome / metabolism
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Elasticity
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 4 or More Rings / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Myosin Type II / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Myosin Type II / metabolism*
  • Neural Stem Cells / cytology
  • Neural Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Neural Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Neuroglia / cytology
  • Neuroglia / drug effects
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Stress, Mechanical


  • Actins
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 4 or More Rings
  • blebbistatin
  • Myosin Type II