How well can an amoeba climb? Academic Article uri icon


  • We report here our efforts to measure the crawling force generated by cells undergoing amoeboid locomotion. In a centrifuge microscope, acceleration was increased until amoebae of Dictyostelium discoideum were "stalled" or no longer able to "climb up." The "apparent weight" of the amoebae at stalling rpm in myosin mutants depended on the presence of myosin II (but not myosins IA and IB) and paralleled the cortical strength of the cells. Surprisingly, however, the cell stalled not only in low-density media as expected but also in media with densities greater than the cell density where the buoyant force should push the amoeba upward. We find that the leading pseudopod is bent under centrifugal force in all stalled amoebae, suggesting that this pseudopod is very dense indeed. This finding also suggests that directional cell locomotion against resistive forces requires a turgid forward-pointing pseudopod, most likely sustained by cortical actomyosin II.

publication date

  • August 29, 2000