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Title: The cartography of cell motion
Author: Tyson, Richard Anthony
ISNI:       0000 0004 2725 0472
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2011
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Cell motility plays an important role throughout biology, the polymerisation of actin being fundamental in producing protrusive force. However, it is increasingly apparent that intracellular pressure, arising from myosin-II contraction, is a co-driver of motility. In its extreme form, pressure manifests itself as hemispherical protrusions, referred to as blebs, where membrane is torn from the underlying cortex. Although many components and signalling pathways have been identified, we lack a complete model of motility, particularly of the regulation and mechanics of blebbing. Advances in microscopy are continually improving the quality of time series image data, but the absence of highthroughput tools for extracting quantitative numbers remains an analysis bottle-neck. We develop the next generation of the successful QuimP software designed for automated analysis of motile cells, producing quantitative spatio-temporal maps of protein distributions and changes in cell morphology. Key to QuimP's new functionality, we present the Electrostatic Contour Migration Method (ECMM) that provides high resolution tracking of local deformation with better uniformity and efficiency than rival methods. Photobleaching experiments are used to give insight into the accuracy and limitations of in silico membrane tracking algorithms. We employ ECMM to build an automated protrusion tracking method (ECMM-APT) sensitive not only to pseudopodia, but also the complex characteristics of high speed blebs. QuimP is applied to characterising the protrusive behaviour of Dictyostelium, induced to bleb by imaging under agar. We show blebs are characterised by distinct speed-displacement distributions, can reach speeds of 4.9μm/sec, and preferentially form at the anks during chemotaxis. Significantly, blebs emerge from at to concave membrane regions suggesting curvature is a major determinant of bleb location, size, and speed. We hypothesise that actin driven pseudopodia at the leading edge induce changes in curvature and therefore membrane tension, positive curvature inhibiting blebbing at the very front, and negative curvature enhancing blebbing at the sides. This possibly provides the necessary space for rear advancement. Furthermore, bleb kymographs reveal a retrograde shift of the cortex at the point of bleb expansion, suggesting inward contractive forces acting on the cortex even at concave regions. Strains defficient in phospholipid signalling show impaired chemotaxis and blebbing. Finally, we present further applications of QuimP, for example, we conclusively show that dishevelled is not polarised during Xenopus gastrulation, contrary to hypotheses in the literature.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: QH301 Biology