How cells change their shape

In a paper published today in Phys. Rev. Lett. CC&B scientists lead by Caterina La Porta showed that cell shape modifications are associated with volume changes. Experiments on zebrafish primordial germ cell demonstrate that water transport in and out of the cell is needed for the formation of blebs, commonly observed protrusions in the plasma membrane driven by cortex contraction. A model of fluid-mediated membrane-cortex deformations and confirms that a permeable membrane is necessary for bleb formation which is otherwise impaired. Taken together, these experimental and theoretical results emphasize the subtle balance between hydrodynamics and elasticity in actively driven cell morphological changes.

Volume Changes During Active Shape Fluctuations in Cells
Alessandro Taloni, Elena Kardash, Oguz Umut Salman, Lev Truskinovsky, Stefano Zapperi, and Caterina A.M. La Porta
Phys. Rev. Lett. 114, 208101 – Published 19 May 2015

Also available on arXiv

Read the Synopsis in Physics: Water Flow Helps Cells Move