Nonmuscle myosin II powered transport of newly formed collagen fibrils at the plasma membrane

Nicholas S. Kalson, Tobias Starborg, Yinhui Lu, Aleksandr Mironov, Sally M. Humphries, David F. Holmes, Karl E. Kadler

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    Collagen fibrils can exceed thousands of microns in length and are therefore the longest, largest, and most size-pleomorphic protein polymers in vertebrates; thus, knowing how cells transport collagen fibrils is essential for a more complete understanding of protein transport and its role in tissue morphogenesis. Here, we identified newly formed collagen fibrils being transported at the surface of embryonic tendon cells in vivo by using serial block facescanning electron microscopy of the cell-matrix interface. Newly formed fibrils ranged in length from ~1 to ~30 μm. The shortest (1-10 μm) occurred in intracellular fibricarriers; the longest (~30 μm) occurred in plasma membrane fibripositors. Fibrils and fibripositors were reduced in numbers when collagen secretion was blocked. ImmunoEM showed the absence of lysosomal-associated membrane protein 2 on fibricarriers and fibripositors and there was no effect of leupeptin on fibricarrier or fibripositor number and size, suggesting that fibricarriers and fibripositors are not part of a fibril degradation pathway. Blebbistatin decreased fibricarrier number and increased fibripositor length; thus, nonmuscle myosin II (NMII) powers the transport of these compartments. Inhibition of dynamin-dependent endocytosis with dynasore blocked fibricarrier formation and caused accumulation of fibrils in fibripositors. Data from fluid-phase HRP electron tomography showed that fibricarriers could originate at the plasma membrane. We propose that NMII-powered transport of newly formed collagen fibrils at the plasma membrane is fundamental to the development of collagen fibril-rich tissues. A NMII-dependent cell-force model is presented as the basis for the creation and dynamics of fibripositor structures.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)E4743-E4752
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Issue number49
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2013


    • 3View
    • Actin
    • Extracellular matrix
    • SBF-SEM
    • Vesicle


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