Precise Tuning of Cortical Contractility Regulates Cell Shape during Cytokinesis

Cell Rep. 2020 Apr 7;31(1):107477. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.03.041.


The mechanical properties of the actin cortex regulate shape changes during cell division, cell migration, and tissue morphogenesis. We show that modulation of myosin II (MII) filament composition allows tuning of surface tension at the cortex to maintain cell shape during cytokinesis. Our results reveal that MIIA generates cortex tension, while MIIB acts as a stabilizing motor and its inclusion in MII hetero-filaments reduces cortex tension. Tension generation by MIIA drives faster cleavage furrow ingression and bleb formation. We also show distinct roles for the motor and tail domains of MIIB in maintaining cytokinetic fidelity. Maintenance of cortical stability by the motor domain of MIIB safeguards against shape instability-induced chromosome missegregation, while its tail domain mediates cortical localization at the terminal stages of cytokinesis to mediate cell abscission. Because most non-muscle contractile systems are cortical, this tuning mechanism will likely be applicable to numerous processes driven by myosin-II contractility.

Keywords: actin cortex; binucleation; bleb; cell division; cortex tension; cytokinesis; hydrostatic pressure; myosin IIA; myosin IIB; spindle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Actins / metabolism
  • Actins / physiology
  • Animals
  • COS Cells
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Shape / physiology*
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Cytokinesis / physiology*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Morphogenesis
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Myosin Type II / metabolism*
  • Myosin Type II / physiology
  • Nonmuscle Myosin Type IIA / metabolism
  • Nonmuscle Myosin Type IIB / metabolism


  • Actins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Myosin Type II
  • Nonmuscle Myosin Type IIA
  • Nonmuscle Myosin Type IIB