Direct measurement of cortical force generation and polarization in a living parasite.


by adhering a microsphere to the surface of an immobilized parasite. Motion of the microsphere reflected underlying forces exerted by the motile apparatus. We found that force generated at the parasite surface begins with no preferential directionality but becomes directed toward the rear of the cell after a period of time. The transition from nondirectional to directional force generation occurs on spatial intervals consistent with the lateral periodicity of structures associated with the membrane pellicle and is influenced by the kinetics of actin filament polymerization and cytoplasmic calcium. A lysine methyltransferase regulates both the magnitude and polarization of the force. Our work provides a novel means to dissect the motile mechanisms of these pathogens.

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