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Biophys J. 2010 Sep 22;99(6):1726-33. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2010.07.031.

Cell blebbing and membrane area homeostasis in spreading and retracting cells.

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Fischell Department of Bioengineering, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA.

Erratum in

  • Biophys J. 2010 Oct 20;99(8):2715. Brugés, Jan [corrected to Brugués, Jan].


Cells remodel their plasma membrane and cytoskeleton during numerous physiological processes, including spreading and motility. Morphological changes require the cell to adjust its membrane tension on different timescales. While it is known that endo- and exocytosis regulate the cell membrane area in a timescale of 1 h, faster processes, such as abrupt cell detachment, require faster regulation of the plasma membrane tension. In this article, we demonstrate that cell blebbing plays a critical role in the global mechanical homeostasis of the cell through regulation of membrane tension. Abrupt cell detachment leads to pronounced blebbing (which slow detachment does not), and blebbing decreases with time in a dynamin-dependent fashion. Cells only start spreading after a lag period whose duration depends on the cell's blebbing activity. Our model quantitatively reproduces the monotonic decay of the blebbing activity and accounts for the lag phase in the spreading of blebbing cells.

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