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Creeping cells rely on molecular motors.

For years, cell biologists have theorized that a migrating cell rolls along much like a military tank tread, pulling its outer membrane across its back in order to push its underside along. But a new study shows that the cell's ruffled "leading edge" does most of the work, while the rest of the outer membrane remains fairly still.

The researchers, led by Michael P. Sheetz at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., used laser "tweezers" to place tiny plastic beads on highly mobile cells taken from goldfish scales and cultured in the laboratory. In the Sept. 15 JOURNAL OF CELL BIOLOGY, they report that the beads on the cells' leading edges were swept rearward as the cells advanced, while beads at the center of the cells' membranes showed only random movement.

Sheetz and his colleagues say their finding suggests that a cell travels by "actively moving components of the cytoskeleton," the cell's inner structural network. Unidentified molecular "motors" pull on the cell's cytoskeleton, the researchers propose, attaching to proteins at the membrane's leading edge and then heaving the cell forward without affecting other membrane regions.
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Title Annotation:cell migration
Publication:Science News
Date:Oct 5, 1991
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