Cortical contractility triggers a stochastic switch to fast amoeboid cell motility

Cell. 2015 Feb 12;160(4):673-685. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.01.008.


3D amoeboid cell migration is central to many developmental and disease-related processes such as cancer metastasis. Here, we identify a unique prototypic amoeboid cell migration mode in early zebrafish embryos, termed stable-bleb migration. Stable-bleb cells display an invariant polarized balloon-like shape with exceptional migration speed and persistence. Progenitor cells can be reversibly transformed into stable-bleb cells irrespective of their primary fate and motile characteristics by increasing myosin II activity through biochemical or mechanical stimuli. Using a combination of theory and experiments, we show that, in stable-bleb cells, cortical contractility fluctuations trigger a stochastic switch into amoeboid motility, and a positive feedback between cortical flows and gradients in contractility maintains stable-bleb cell polarization. We further show that rearward cortical flows drive stable-bleb cell migration in various adhesive and non-adhesive environments, unraveling a highly versatile amoeboid migration phenotype.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Movement*
  • Cell Polarity
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / cytology*
  • Gastrula / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Zebrafish / embryology*