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Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2013 Oct;25(5):582-90. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2013 Jun 17.

The role and regulation of blebs in cell migration.

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Medical Research Council, Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology, University College London, Gower Street, WC1E 6BT London, UK.


Blebs are cellular protrusions that have been shown to be instrumental for cell migration in development and disease. Bleb expansion is driven by hydrostatic pressure generated in the cytoplasm by the contractile actomyosin cortex. The mechanisms of bleb formation thus fundamentally differ from the actin polymerization-based mechanisms responsible for lamellipodia expansion. In this review, we summarize recent findings relevant for the mechanics of bleb formation and the underlying molecular pathways. We then review the processes involved in determining the type of protrusion formed by migrating cells, in particular in vivo, in the context of embryonic development. Finally, we discuss how cells utilize blebs for their forward movement in the presence or absence of strong substrate attachment.

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