Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Pulling together and pulling apart: collective cargo movement in eukaryotic cells

To establish and maintain their internal organization, living cells must move molecules to their correct locations. Long-range intracellular movements are often driven by motor molecules moving along microtubules, similarly to trucks driving along a highway. Recent work demonstrates that some randomly dispersed cargos can generate actin filaments that form a connected network whose contraction drives collective cargo movement.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Movement of intracellular cargo.
Figure 2: Geometry of contraction-driven cargo movements in various cell types.


  1. Schuh, M. Nat. Cell Biol. 13, 1431–1436 (2011).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Roy, S., Hsiung, F. & Kornberg, T. B. Science 332, 354–358 (2011).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Lénárt, P., Bacher, C. P., Daigle, N., Hand, A. R., Eils, R., Terasaki, M. & Ellenberg, J. Nature 436, 812–818 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Quinlan, M. E., Hilgert, S., Bedrossian, A., Mullins, R. D. & Kerkhoff, E. J. Cell Biol. 179, 117–128 (2007).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Pfender, S., Kuznetsov, V., Pleiser, S., Kerkhoff, E. & Schuh, M. Curr. Biol. 21, 955–960 (2011).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Pollard, T. D., Blanchoin, L. & Mullins, R. D. Annu. Rev. Biophys. Biomol. Struct. 29, 545–576 (2000).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Tanaka, T., Kato, Y., Matsuda, K., Hanyu-Nakamura, K. & Nakamura, A. Development. 138, 2523–2532 (2011).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Krauss, J., López de Quinto, S., Nüsslein-Volhard, C. & Ephrussi, A. Curr. Biol. 19, 1058–1063 (2009).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Munro, E. & Bowerman, B. Cold Spring Harb. Perspect. Biol. 1 (4), a003400 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dyche Mullins.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The author declares no competing financial interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Mullins, D. Pulling together and pulling apart: collective cargo movement in eukaryotic cells. Nat Cell Biol 13, 1391–1392 (2011).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing