Contraction speed of the actomyosin cytoskeleton in the absence of the cell membrane

Gustavo R. Plaza*, Taro Q.P. Uyeda

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The contraction of the actomyosin cytoskeleton, which is produced by the sliding of myosin II along actin filaments, drives important cellular activities such as cytokinesis and cell migration. To explain the contraction velocities observed in such physiological processes, we have studied the contraction of intact cytoskeletons of Dictyostelium discoideum cells after removing the plasma membrane using Triton X-100. The technique developed in this work allows for the quantitative measurement of contraction rates of individual cytoskeletons. The relationship of the contraction rates with forces was analyzed using three different myosins with different in vitro sliding velocities. The cytoskeletons containing these myosins were always contractile and the contraction rate was correlated with the sliding velocity of the myosins. However, the values of the contraction rate were two to three orders of magnitude slower than expected from the in vitro sliding velocities of the myosins, presumably due to internal and external resistive forces. The contraction process also depended on actin cross-linking proteins. The lack of α-actinin increased the contraction rate 2-fold and reduced the capacity of the cytoskeleton to retain internal materials, while the lack of filamin resulted in the ATP-dependent disruption of the cytoskeleton. Interestingly, the myosin-dependent contraction rate of intact contractile rings is also reportedly much slower than the in vitro sliding velocity of myosin, and is similar to the contraction rates of cytoskeletons (different by only 2-3 fold), suggesting that the contraction of intact cells and cytoskeletons is limited by common mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4390-4400
Number of pages11
JournalSoft Matter
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 2013 May 5
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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