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Spontaneous Cell Polarization Through Actomyosin-Based Delivery of the Cdc42 GTPase

Science, 21 February 2003
Vol. 299, Issue 5610, p. 1231-1235
DOI: 10.1126/science.1080944

Spontaneous Cell Polarization Through Actomyosin-Based Delivery of the Cdc42 GTPase

  1. Roland Wedlich-Soldner1,
  2. Steve Altschuler2,
  3. Lani Wu2,
  4. Rong Li1,*
  1. 1 Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
  2. 2 Bauer Center for Genomics Research, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.


Cell polarization can occur in the absence of any spatial cues. To investigate the mechanism of spontaneous cell polarization, we used an assay in yeast where expression of an activated form of Cdc42, a Rho-type guanosine triphosphatase (GTPase) required for cell polarization, could generate cell polarity without any recourse to a preestablished physical cue. The polar distribution of Cdc42 in this assay required targeted secretion directed by the actin cytoskeleton. A mathematical simulation showed that a stable polarity axis could be generated through a positive feedback loop in which a stochastic increase in the local concentration of activated Cdc42 on the plasma membrane enhanced the probability of actin polymerization and increased the probability of further Cdc42 accumulation to that site.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: rong_li{at}

  • Received for publication 28 November 2002.
  • Accepted for publication 21 January 2003.


R. Wedlich-Soldner, S. Altschuler, L. Wu, and R. Li, Spontaneous Cell Polarization Through Actomyosin-Based Delivery of the Cdc42 GTPase. Science 299, 1231-1235 (2003).

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