So the little blobs aren’t nearly as helpless, let alone simple, as they have sometimes been made out to be. It’s quite the little world in there:
“These structures play a pivotal role in .. allowing cells to explore their environment, generate mechanical forces, perform chemical signaling, or convey signals via intercellular tunneling nano-bridges,” the researchers write in their paper.
“The dynamics of filopodia appear quite complex as they exhibit a rich behavior of buckling, pulling, length and shape changes. Here, we show that filopodia additionally explore their 3D extracellular space by combining growth and shrinking with axial twisting and buckling of their actin rich core.” …
“They’re able to bend – twist, if you will – in a way that allows them to explore the entire space around the cell, and they can even penetrate tissues in their environment,” says lead author, Niels Bohr Institute biophysicist Natascha Leijnse.Jacinta Bowler, “Your Cells Have Weird ‘Tentacles’ That Help Them Move Around. Here’s How They Work” at ScienceAlert (March 28, 2022)
Unfortunately, some of the cells that probably get a lot of use out of their filopodia are cancer cells. But maybe, the researchers suggest, that fact points to new treatment methods.
The paper is open access.
You may also wish to read: Origin of life: But how do cells come to have “borders” at all? Inanimate objects don’t have “borders” because they need not defend themselves against anything. Boulders don’t care if they end up as sand. Having a membrane at all suggests that something is different about life that can’t be explained by the various “It all just happened” scenarios we often hear about how life got started. How did life forms decide they wanted to protect themselves?