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Bioarchitecture. 2011 May;1(3):114-121.

Single cell wound repair: Dealing with life's little traumas.

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Division of Basic Sciences; Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Seattle, WA USA.


Cell wounding is a common event in the life of many cell types, and the capacity of the cell to repair day-to-day wear-and-tear injuries, as well as traumatic ones, is fundamental for maintaining tissue integrity. Cell wounding is most frequent in tissues exposed to high levels of stress. Survival of such plasma membrane disruptions requires rapid resealing to prevent the loss of cytosolic components, to block Ca(2+) influx and to avoid cell death. In addition to patching the torn membrane, plasma membrane and cortical cytoskeleton remodeling are required to restore cell function. Although a general understanding of the cell wound repair process is in place, the underlying mechanisms of each step of this response are not yet known. We have developed a model to study single cell wound repair using the early Drosophila embryo. Our system combines genetics and live imaging tools, allowing us to dissect in vivo the dynamics of the single cell wound response. We have shown that cell wound repair in Drosophila requires the coordinated activities of plasma membrane and cytoskeleton components. Furthermore, we identified an unexpected role for E-cadherin as a link between the contractile actomyosin ring and the newly formed plasma membrane plug.

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