Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Insight into how stress fibres are controlled to enable cell movement

26 December 2021

Stress Lines

Walking in a straight line with your eyes closed is surprisingly tricky. So how do cells navigating dark depths of the body keep on track? These essential journeys, fundamental to healthy development, are enabled by stress fibres – bundles of proteins that anchor and guide a cell’s movement. How these stress fibres manoeuvre is poorly understood. A new study observed cell movement in a fruit fly egg chamber and discovered the fibres steer progress through a conveyor-belt mechanism, growing new material at their leading tip and laying down fresh sticky segments one in front of the other (video, with growing tips in blue). Adhesion at the back is dismantled as the rear of the cell catches up. The researchers identified a key regulator, a protein called DAAM, that supports this on-the-move growth, and showed this constant treadmill keeps each cell on a steady trajectory, and on course for a healthy life.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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