This study was designed to investigate the relationship between the position of the microtubule organizing center (MTOC) and the direction of migration of a sheet of endothelial cells (EC). Using immunofluorescence and phase microscopy the MTOC's of migrating EC were visualized as the cells moved into an in vitro experimental wound produced by mechanical denudation of part of a confluent monolayer culture. Although the MTOC's in nonmigrating EC were randomly positioned in relation to the nucleus, in migrating cells the position of the MTOC's changed so that 80% of the cells had the MTOC positioned in front of the nucleus toward the direction of movement of the endothelial sheet. This repositioning of the MTOC occurred within the first 4 h after wounding and was associated with the beginning of migration of EC's into the wounded area as seen by time-lapse cinemicrophotography. These studies focus attention on the MTOC as a cytoskeletal structure that may play a role in determining the direction of cell movement.

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