Vallee, Richard Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.
Last reviewed:January 2021
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- Molecules responsible for movement
- Actin and myosin
- Microtubules, dynein, and kinesin
- Cell division
- Other motile proteins
- Relationship to disease
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The movement of cells, the movement of materials within cells, and changes in cell shape (including cell division). Cell motility is an important facet of cell biology, encompassing the movement of individual cells, the coordinated movement of many cells, and the translocation of materials within cells (see illustration). In addition, changes in cell shape, particularly changes resulting from cell division, are considered to be forms of cell motility. Specifically, many free-living protozoa (single-celled eukaryotic microorganisms) are capable of movement, as are sperm and ameboid cells of higher organisms. Coordinated movement of cells occurs during embryogenesis, wound healing, and muscle contraction in higher organisms. Cell division is observed in all organisms and is a requirement for reproduction, growth, and development. Many cells also undergo structural changes as they differentiate (for example, the outgrowth of axonal and dendritic processes during nerve cell differentiation). A more subtle form of cell motility involves the active transport of membranous organelles within the cell's cytoplasm. This form of movement is required for proper organization of the cytoplasmic contents, as well as for the redistribution of metabolites, hormones, and other materials within the cell. See also: Cell (biology); Cell biology; Cell differentiation; Cell division; Cell organization; Cytoplasm; Protozoa
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