Get access

Functional impact of cholesterol sequestration on actin cytoskeleton in normal and transformed fibroblasts


Corresponding author: e-mail:


Membrane cholesterol and lipid rafts are implicated in various signalling processes involving actin rearrangement in living cells. However, functional link between raft integrity and organisation of cytoskeleton remains unclear. We have compared the effect of cholesterol sequestration on F-actin structures in normal and transformed fibroblasts in which microfilament system is developed to a different extent. The depletion of membrane cholesterol by methyl-beta-cyclodextrin (MbCD) resulted in a disruption of lipid rafts in plasma membrane as it was revealed by fluorescent labelling of GM1 ganglioside. In normal fibroblasts with highly developed microfilament system, the cholesterol depletion resulted in actin disassembly and reduction of stress fibres. However, in transformed cells containing low amount of fibrillar actin, MbCD treatment induced intensive formation of stress fibres and increased cell spreading. The results show that the effect of cholesterol depletion and lipid raft disruption on microfilament system is critically determined by the initial state of cytoskeleton, specifically, by the balance of polymerised and monomeric actin in the cell. We assume that uncapping of the microfilaments is the key step of cholesterol-regulated actin remodelling.