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The nucleus has long been postulated to play a critical physical role during cell polarization and migration, but that role has not been defined or rigorously tested. Here, we enucleated cells to test the physical necessity of the nucleus during cell polarization and directed migration. Using enucleated mammalian cells (cytoplasts), we found that polarity establishment and cell migration in one dimension (1D) and two dimensions (2D) occur without the nucleus. Cytoplasts directionally migrate toward soluble (chemotaxis) and surface-bound (haptotaxis) extracellular cues and migrate collectively in scratch-wound assays. Consistent with previous studies, migration in 3D environments was dependent on the nucleus. In part, this likely reflects the decreased force exerted by cytoplasts on mechanically compliant substrates. This response is mimicked both in cells with nucleocytoskeletal defects and upon inhibition of actomyosin-based contractility. Together, our observations reveal that the nucleus is dispensable for polarization and migration in 1D and 2D but critical for proper cell mechanical responses.


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© Uzer, Gunes; et al., 2018. Originally published in Journal of Cell Biology. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201706097

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.