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Cell surface morphology after trypsinisation depends on initial cell shape

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Christine Harrison FRCPath FMedSci


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Cells growing in tissue culture exhibit constant variation in shape and surface morphology, particularly during the process of mitosis, where the cell rounds up exhibiting an intensely microvillous surface prior to cytokinesis. During routine subculturing, cells are induced to round up and relinquish contact with the substratum. Although the cells retain their viability throughout trypsinisation, their surface morphology demonstrates a variety of changes between finger-like microvillous projections, and spherical protruberances termed blebs. The reaction of individual cells to cell rounding, in the presence of trypsin appears to be dependent on cell shape, which may be modulated naturally or altered by experimental agents. Cells of bipolar morphology, termed fibroblasts, produce a blebbed surface morphology in response to trypsin, whereas isometric, 'epithelioid' cells respond by the formation of a microvillous cell surface. Blebbed cells subsequently undergo membrane reorganisation towards a more organised, and more permanent microvillous cell surface, even in the continued presence of trypsin. Naturally occurring spherical cells, for example, mitotic or suspension cultures, are microvillous and trypsin has no effect on their surface morphology. It would appear that blebs are the cells response to experimentally induced rapid change of shape of well spread cells, and thus represent a pathological response for prevention of membrane loss in conditions which produce a rapid assumption of a minimum surface area configuration, i.e. a sphere, which occurs too quickly for membrane resorption, or normal storage in the form of microvilli.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Harrison CJ, Allen TD

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Differentiation

Year: 1979

Volume: 15

Issue: 1-3

Pages: 61-6

ISSN (print): 0301-4681

ISSN (electronic): 1432-0436

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1111/j.1432-0436.1979.tb01035.x

Notes: Comparative Study Journal Article England


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