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Nat Cell Biol. 2013 Jul;15(7):860-71. doi: 10.1038/ncb2764. Epub 2013 Jun 9.

A screen for morphological complexity identifies regulators of switch-like transitions between discrete cell shapes.

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1
NCI Center for Modeling Cancer Development, The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, Weill Cornell Medical College, 6670 Bertner Avenue, R6 South, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.

Abstract

The way in which cells adopt different morphologies is not fully understood. Cell shape could be a continuous variable or restricted to a set of discrete forms. We developed quantitative methods to describe cell shape and show that Drosophila haemocytes in culture are a heterogeneous mixture of five discrete morphologies. In an RNAi screen of genes affecting the morphological complexity of heterogeneous cell populations, we found that most genes regulate the transition between discrete shapes rather than generating new morphologies. In particular, we identified a subset of genes, including the tumour suppressor PTEN, that decrease the heterogeneity of the population, leading to populations enriched in rounded or elongated forms. We show that these genes have a highly conserved function as regulators of cell shape in both mouse and human metastatic melanoma cells.

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PMID:
23748611
PMCID:
PMC3712499
DOI:
10.1038/ncb2764
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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