Cytoplasm's Got Moves

Dev Cell. 2021 Jan 25;56(2):213-226. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2020.12.002. Epub 2020 Dec 14.


Cytoplasm is a gel-like crowded environment composed of various macromolecules, organelles, cytoskeletal networks, and cytosol. The structure of the cytoplasm is highly organized and heterogeneous due to the crowding of its constituents and their effective compartmentalization. In such an environment, the diffusive dynamics of the molecules are restricted, an effect that is further amplified by clustering and anchoring of molecules. Despite the crowded nature of the cytoplasm at the microscopic scale, large-scale reorganization of the cytoplasm is essential for important cellular functions, such as cell division and polarization. How such mesoscale reorganization of the cytoplasm is achieved, especially for large cells such as oocytes or syncytial tissues that can span hundreds of micrometers in size, is only beginning to be understood. In this review, we will discuss recent advances in elucidating the molecular, cellular, and biophysical mechanisms by which the cytoskeleton drives cytoplasmic reorganization across different scales, structures, and species.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytoplasm / physiology*
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism*
  • Cytosol / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular*
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism*
  • Organelles / metabolism*


  • Multiprotein Complexes