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Anal Bioanal Chem. 2011 Mar;399(7):2351-8. doi: 10.1007/s00216-010-3978-z. Epub 2010 Jul 16.

Endothelial f-actin depolymerization enables leukocyte transmigration.

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Institute of Physiology II, University of M√ľnster, Germany.


A demanding task of medicine is to understand and control the immune system. Central players in the cellular immune response are the leukocytes that leave the blood stream for host defense. Endothelial cells limit the emigration rate of leukocytes. Being located between blood and tissues, they permit or deny the passage. The exact mechanism of this process called diapedesis is not solved yet. Leukocytes can principally traverse either between cells (paracellularly) or directly through an individual endothelial cell (transcellularly). The transcellular way has recently gained experimental support, but it is not clear how the endothelial cytoskeleton manages to open and close a transmigratory channel. Atomic force microscopy was used to investigate the endothelial cytoskeleton. In order to directly access the leukocyte-endothelial interaction site, we applied a special protocol ("nanosurgery"). As a result, the endothelial cell turned out to become softer in a confined region strictly underneath the leukocyte. Fluorescence microscopy confirmed a depolymerization of the f-actin strands at the invasion site. Leukocytes dramatically rearrange the endothelial cytoskeleton to form transmigratory channels.

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