During apoptosis, dying cells undergo dynamic morphological changes that ultimately lead to their disassembly into fragments called apoptotic bodies (ApoBDs). Reorganisation of the cytoskeletal structures is key in driving various apoptotic morphologies, including the loss of cell adhesion and membrane bleb formation. However, whether cytoskeletal components are also involved in morphological changes that occur later during apoptosis, such as the recently described generation of thin apoptotic membrane protrusions called apoptopodia and subsequent ApoBD formation, is not well defined. Through monitoring the progression of apoptosis by confocal microscopy, specifically focusing on the apoptopodia formation step, we characterised the presence of F-actin and microtubules in a subset of apoptopodia generated by T cells and monocytes. Interestingly, targeting actin polymerisation and microtubule assembly pharmacologically had no major effect on apoptopodia formation. These data demonstrate apoptopodia as a novel type of membrane protrusion that could be formed in the absence of actin polymerisation and microtubule assembly.
Keywords: Apoptopodia; Apoptotic bodies; Apoptotic cell disassembly; Apoptotic morphology; Cytoskeletal components; Membrane protrusions.