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Open Access Research article

Self-organizing actin waves that simulate phagocytic cup structures

Günther Gerisch

Author Affiliations

Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie, Am Klopferspitz 18, D-82152 Martinsried, Germany

PMC Biophysics 2010, 3:7  doi:10.1186/1757-5036-3-7

Published: 18 March 2010

Abstract

This report deals with actin waves that are spontaneously generated on the planar, substrate-attached surface of Dictyostelium cells. These waves have the following characteristics. (1) They are circular structures of varying shape, capable of changing the direction of propagation. (2) The waves propagate by treadmilling with a recovery of actin incorporation after photobleaching of less than 10 seconds. (3) The waves are associated with actin-binding proteins in an ordered 3-dimensional organization: with myosin-IB at the front and close to the membrane, the Arp2/3 complex throughout the wave, and coronin at the cytoplasmic face and back of the wave. Coronin is a marker of disassembling actin structures. (4) The waves separate two areas of the cell cortex that differ in actin structure and phosphoinositide composition of the membrane. The waves arise at the border of membrane areas rich in phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5) trisphosphate (PIP3). The inhibition of PIP3 synthesis reversibly inhibits wave formation. (5) The actin wave and PIP3 patterns resemble 2-dimensional projections of phagocytic cups, suggesting that they are involved in the scanning of surfaces for particles to be taken up.

PACS Codes: 87.16.Ln, 87.19.lp, 89.75.Fb