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Organization and Function of Stress Fibers in Cells in Vitro and in Situ

A Review
  • H. Randolph Byers
  • Glenn E. White
  • Keigi Fujiwara

Abstract

The purpose of this review is to present the tremendous body of research on stress fibers, which has grown exceedingly rapidly in the last 7 or 8 years, due to immunofluorescent techniques, with both a technical and functional perspective. The first section is primarily a chronology of technical innovations which have enabled better observation and characterization of stress fibers. This section also reviews the numerous contractile-associated proteins, actin-binding proteins, regulator proteins, and other proteins shown to localize to stress fibers in a characteristic distribution. The second section discusses the wide variety of roles for stress fibers that have been set forth, including cell spreading, cell adhesion, cell locomotion, contraction, isometric contraction, cell surface compartmentalization, differentiation, cell transformation, tumorigenicity, and morphogenesis. In order to help interpret the significance of the many purported roles of stress fibers, it is important to ask whether stress fibers in vitro are pure artifacts and whether stress fibers exist in cells in situ. This review demonstrates that the stress fiber is fundamentally a light microscopic term, and in order to avoid confusion with other microfilament bundle-containing structures seen in the electron microscope, such as circumferential microfilament bundles, contractile rings, microvilli, microspikes, and rootlet structures, it is necessary to establish criteria for the identification of stress fibers in situ. Finally, using these criteria, this paper presents two recently introduced models which exhibit stress fibers in cells in tissues: the fibroblast, called a scleroblast in the fish scale, and the endothelial cells of avian and mammalian vasculature.

Keywords

Actin Filament Stress Fiber Contractile Protein Focal Contact Fish Scale 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Randolph Byers
    • 1
  • Glenn E. White
    • 1
  • Keigi Fujiwara
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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