Filopodia rotate and coil by actively generating twist in their actin shaft

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The authors show how tubular surface structures in all cell types, have the ability to twist and perform rotary sweeping motion to explore the extracellular environment. This has implications for migration, sensing and cell communication.

Filopodia are actin-rich structures, present on the surface of eukaryotic cells. These structures play a pivotal role by allowing cells to explore their environment, generate mechanical forces or perform chemical signaling. Their complex dynamics includes buckling, pulling, length and shape changes. We show that filopodia additionally explore their 3D extracellular space by combining growth and shrinking with axial twisting and buckling. Importantly, the actin core inside filopodia performs a twisting or spinning motion which is observed for a range of cell types spanning from earliest development to highly differentiated tissue cells. Non-equilibrium physical modeling of actin and myosin confirm that twist is an emergent phenomenon of active filaments confined in a narrow channel which is supported by measured traction forces and helical buckles that can be ascribed to accumulation of sufficient twist. These results lead us to conclude that activity induced twisting of the actin shaft is a general mechanism underlying fundamental functions of filopodia.

TidsskriftNature Communications
Udgave nummer1
Antal sider16
StatusUdgivet - 28 mar. 2022

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