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Biophys J. 2010 Mar 17;98(6):979-88. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2009.11.041.

Force generation in lamellipodia is a probabilistic process with fast growth and retraction events.

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  • 1International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA-ISAS), Trieste 34149, Italy.

Abstract

Polymerization of actin filaments is the primary source of motility in lamellipodia and it is controlled by a variety of regulatory proteins. The underlying molecular mechanisms are only partially understood and a precise determination of dynamical properties of force generation is necessary. Using optical tweezers, we have measured with millisecond (ms) temporal resolution and picoNewton (pN) sensitivity the force-velocity (Fv) relationship and the power dissipated by lamellipodia of dorsal root ganglia neurons. When force and velocity are averaged over 3-5 s, the Fv relationships can be flat. On a finer timescale, random occurrence of fast growth and subsecond retractions become predominant. The maximal power dissipated by lamellipodia over a silica bead with a diameter of 1 microm is 10(-16) W. Our results clarify the dynamical properties of force generation: i), force generation is a probabilistic process; ii), underlying biological events have a bandwidth up to at least 10 Hz; and iii), fast growth of lamellipodia leading edge alternates with local retractions.

Copyright 2010 Biophysical Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID:
20303855
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2849058
Free PMC Article
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