Cell migration depends on structures called focal adhesions that connect a cell to the surrounding extracellular matrix. Microtubules—long, thin polymers found in and around cells—help disassemble focal adhesions, allowing the cell to move. A study published August 30 in the Journal of Cell Biology found that the protein actin is necessary for normal feedback between microtubules and focal adhesions.
Actin assembly by APC maintains organization and dynamics of F-actin at focal adhesions. This impacts the organization of other molecular components and the responsiveness of focal adhesions to microtubule capture and autophagosome-induced disassembly https://t.co/ytW8s0it3a pic.twitter.com/qIcDXzRfPK— JCellBiol (@JCellBiol) September 9, 2019
The researchers, led by M. Angeles Juanes of Brandeis University, studied motile breast cancer cells. The video above shows time-lapse fluorescence microscopy of migrating breast cancer cells. As the cells move, focal adhesions (the brighter pink areas) assemble and disassemble. Wildtype cells (left) had faster focal adhesion disassembly than cells that had a defect in forming actin filaments (right), suggesting that actin helps maintain the dynamics and organization of microtubules and other focal adhesion components.
M. A. Juanes et al., “The role of APC-mediated actin assembly in microtubule capture and focal adhesion turnover,” doi/10.1083/jcb.201904165, J Cell Biol, 2019.
Emily Makowski is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at email@example.com.