In cell biology, a bleb is an irregular bulge in the plasma membrane of a cell, caused by localized decoupling of the cytoskeleton from the plasma membrane.[1] Blebbing or zeiosis is the formation of blebs.

Physiological functions

During apoptosis (programmed cell death), the cell's cytoskeleton breaks up and causes the membrane to bulge outward.[2] These bulges may separate from the cell, taking a portion of cytoplasm with them, to become known as apoptotic bodies. Phagocytic cells eventually consume these fragments and the components are recycled.

Blebbing also has important functions in other cellular processes, including cell locomotion, cell division, and physical or chemical stresses. The types of blebs vary greatly, including variations in bleb growth rates, size, contents, and actin content.


A chemical known as blebbistatin was recently shown to inhibit the formation of blebs. This agent was discovered in a screen for small molecule inhibitors of nonmuscle myosin IIA and was shown to lower the affinity of myosin with actin,[3][4][5] thus altering the contractile forces that impinge on the cytoskeleton-membrane interface.



  • Drug Stops Motor Protein, Shines Light on Cell Division - FOCUS March 21, 2003. Retrieved April 8, 2008.

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