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Science. 1988 Feb 19;239(4842):883-8.

Cortical flow in animal cells.

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  • 1MRC Cell Biophysics Unit, London, United Kingdom.


A concerted flow of actin filaments associated with the inner face of the plasma membrane may provide the basis for many animal cell movements. The flow is driven by gradients of tension in the cell cortex, which pull cortical components from regions of relaxation to regions of contraction. In some cases cortical components return through the cytoplasm to establish a continuous cycle. This cortically located motor may drive cell locomotion, growth cone migration, the capping of antigens on a lymphocyte surface, and cytokinesis.

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