Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy



First Adviser

Vavylonis, Dimitrios

Other advisers/committee members

Biaggio, Ivan; Ou-Yang, Daniel; Dierolf, Volkmar; Ding, Yujie


The cellular morphology of adhered cells depends crucially on the formation of a contractile meshwork of parallel and cross-linked stress fibers along the contacting surface. The motor activity and mini-filament assembly of non-muscle myosin II is an important component of cell-level cytoskeletal remodeling during mechanosensing. To monitor the dynamics of non-muscle myosin II, we used confocal microscopy to image cultured HeLa cells that stably express myosin regulatory light chain tagged with GFP (MRLC-GFP). MRLC-GFP was monitored in time-lapse movies at steady state and during the response of cells to varying concentrations of blebbistatin (which disrupts actomyosin stress fibers). Using image correlation spectroscopy analysis, we quantified the kinetics of disassembly and reassembly of actomyosin networks and compared to studies by other groups. This analysis suggested the following processes: myosin minifilament assembly and disassembly; aligning and contraction; myosin filament stabilization upon increasing contractile tension. Numerical simulations that include those processes capture some of the main features observed in the experiments. This study provides a framework to help interpret how different cortical myosin remodeling kinetics may contribute to different cell shape and rigidity depending on substrate stiffness. We discuss methods to monitor myosin reorganization using non-linear imaging methods.

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