Blebs lead the way: how to migrate without lamellipodia

  title={Blebs lead the way: how to migrate without lamellipodia},
  author={Guillaume T. Charras and Ewa K. Paluch},
  journal={Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology},
Blebs are spherical membrane protrusions that are produced by contractions of the actomyosin cortex. Blebs are often considered to be a hallmark of apoptosis; however, blebs are also frequently observed during cytokinesis and during migration in three-dimensional cultures and in vivo. For tumour cells and a number of embryonic cells, blebbing migration seems to be a common alternative to the more extensively studied lamellipodium-based motility. We argue that blebs should be promoted to a more… 

The role and regulation of blebs in cell migration

Cell migration: Fibroblasts find a new way to get ahead

  • M. Sixt
  • Biology
    The Journal of cell biology
  • 2012
In some 3D environments, including tissue explants, fibroblasts project different structures, termed lobopodia, at the leading edge; however, similar to membrane blebs, they are driven by actomyosin contraction and do not accumulate active Rac, Cdc42, and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinases.

Fluid migration during bleb formation in cells in vivo

It is shown that bleb inflation occurs concomitantly with cytoplasmic inflow into it and that during this process the total cell volume does not change and the bleb formation results primarily from redistribution of material within the cell rather than being driven by flow of water from an external source.

Cell mechanics control rapid transitions between blebs and lamellipodia during migration

The data reveal that the type of protrusion formed by migrating cells can be dynamically controlled independently of overall cell morphology, suggesting that protrusion formation is an autonomous module in the regulatory network that controls the plasticity of cell migration.

Fluid dynamics during bleb formation in migrating cells in vivo

It is shown that bleb inflation occurs concomitantly with cytoplasmic inflow into it and that during this process the total cell volume does not change and the bleb formation in primordial germ cells results primarily from redistribution of material within the cell rather than being driven by flow of water from an external source.

Blebs—Formation, Regulation, Positioning, and Role in Amoeboid Cell Migration

The mechanisms that control the inflation of blebs and bias their formation in the direction of the cell’s leading edge are examined and current views concerning the role blebs play in promoting cell locomotion are presented.

Role of cortical tension in bleb growth

It is shown that there is a critical tension below which blebs cannot expand, and this dependence can be fitted with a model of the cortex as an active elastic material, and insights are provided as to how bleb formation can be biochemically regulated during cell motility.

Actin-based protrusions of migrating neutrophils are intrinsically lamellar and facilitate direction changes

Three-dimensional pseudopods are found to be composed of thin, flat sheets that sometimes interleave to form rosettes, and their laminar nature is not templated by an external surface, but likely reflects a linear arrangement of regulatory molecules.

How blebs and pseudopods cooperate during chemotaxis

It is shown that blebs form in concave regions of the plasma membrane of migrating Dictyostelium cells and proposed that the underlying physical reason is due to membrane tension, which provides an outward force at concavities.



Dissection of amoeboid movement into two mechanically distinct modes

It is shown that Dictyostelium cells moving in a physiological milieu continuously produce `blebs' at their leading edges, and that focal blebbing contributes greatly to their locomotion, and concludes that amoeboid motility comprises two mechanically different processes characterized by the production of two distinct cell-surface protrusions, blebs and filopodia-lamellipodia.

Dynamic modes of the cortical actomyosin gel during cell locomotion and division.

Cell motility through plasma membrane blebbing

It is proposed that in a physiological context, bleb-associated cell motility reflects a cell's response to reduced substratum adhesion and the importance of blebbing as a functional protrusion is underscores by the existence of multiple molecular mechanisms that govern actin-mediated bleb retraction.

Cortical actomyosin breakage triggers shape oscillations in cells and cell fragments.

It is found that adherent cells, when detached from their substrate, developed a membrane bulge devoid of detectable actin and myosin, and a constriction ring at the base of the bulge oscillated from one side of the cell to the other.

Protrusive activity, cytoplasmic compartmentalization, and restriction rings in locomoting blebbing Walker carcinosarcoma cells are related to detachment of cortical actin from the plasma membrane.

The findings suggest that the dynamic events at the front of blebbing metazoan cells are similar to those previously found in Amoeba proteus but different from those found in lamellipodia.

Spreading of trypsinized cells: cytoskeletal dynamics and energy requirements.

The spreading of trypsinized XTH-2 cells (a line derived from Xenopus laevis tadpole heart endothelia) on glass was investigated and was interpreted as a self-organizing process based on the development of internal hydraulic pressure, actin polymerization and contraction of the newly developed actomyosin network.

Actin polymerization and intracellular solvent flow in cell surface blebbing

It is postulated that blebs occur when the fluid-driven expansion of the cell membrane is sufficiently rapid to initially outpace the local rate of actin polymerization, and the rate of intracellular solvent flow driving this expansion decreases as cortical gelation is achieved, thereby leading to decreased size and occurrence of blebs.

Reassembly of contractile actin cortex in cell blebs

The Rho pathway was important for cortex assembly in blebs, and Ezrin played no role in actin nucleation, but was essential for tethering the membrane to the cortex.


Cell movements in Fundulus blastoderms during gastrulation were studied utilizing time-lapse cinemicrography and electron microscopy. Time-lapse films reveal that cells of the enveloping layer