Plasma membrane blebs are dynamic cytoskeleton-regulated cell protrusions that have been implicated in apoptosis, cytokinesis, and cell movement. Influencing Rho-guanosine triphosphatase activities and subsequent actomyosin dynamics appears to constitute a core component for bleb formation. In this paper, we discuss recent evidence in support of a central role of nonapoptotic membrane blebbing for cell migration and cancer cell invasion as well as advances in our understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms. Based on these studies, we propose that in a physiological context, bleb-associated cell motility reflects a cell's response to reduced substratum adhesion. The importance of blebbing as a functional protrusion is underscored by the existence of multiple molecular mechanisms that govern actin-mediated bleb retraction.
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