Statistics of active transport in Xenopus melanophores cells

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The transport of cell cargo, such as organelles and protein complexes in the cytoplasm, is determined by cooperative action of molecular motors stepping along polar cytoskeletal elements. Analysis of transport of individual organelles generated useful information about the properties of the motor proteins and underlying cytoskeletal elements. In this work, for the first time (to our knowledge), we study collective movement of multiple organelles using Xenopus melanophores, pigment cells that translocate several thousand of pigment granules (melanosomes), spherical organelles of a diameter of ∼1 μm. These cells disperse melanosomes in the cytoplasm in response to high cytoplasmic cAMP, while at low cAMP melanosomes cluster at the cell center. Obtained results suggest spatial and temporal organization, characterized by strong correlations between movement of neighboring organelles, with correlation length of ∼4 μm and pair lifetime ∼5 s. Furthermore, velocity statistics revealed strongly non-Gaussian velocity distribution with high velocity tails demonstrating exponential behavior suggestive of strong velocity correlations. Depolymerization of vimentin intermediate filaments using a dominant-negative vimentin mutant or actin with cytochalasin B reduced correlation of behavior of individual particles. Based on our analysis, we concluded that steric repulsion is dominant, but both intermediate filaments and actin microfilaments are involved in dynamic cross-linking organelles in the cytoplasm. © 2010 by the Biophysical Society.




Snezhko, A., Barlan, K., Aranson, I. S., & Gelfand, V. I. (2010). Statistics of active transport in Xenopus melanophores cells. Biophysical Journal, 99(10), 3216–3223.

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