Actin binding proteins: regulation of cytoskeletal microfilaments

C. G. Dos Remedios*, D. Chhabra, M. Kekic, I. V. Dedova, M. Tsubakihara, D. A. Berry, N. J. Nosworthy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

785 Citations (Scopus)


The actin cytoskeleton is a complex structure that performs a wide range of cellular functions. In 2001, significant advances were made to our understanding of the structure and function of actin monomers. Many of these are likely to help us understand and distinguish between the structural models of actin microfilaments. In particular, 1) the structure of actin was resolved from crystals in the absence of cocrystallized actin binding proteins (ABPs), 2) the prokaryotic ancestral gene of actin was crystallized and its function as a bacterial cytoskeleton was revealed, and 3) the structure of the Arp2/3 complex was described for the first time. In this review we selected several ABPs (ADF/cofilin, profilin, gelsolin, thymosin β4, DNase I, CapZ, tropomodulin, and Arp2/3) that regulate actin-driven assembly, i.e., movement that is independent of motor proteins. They were chosen because 1) they represent a family of related proteins, 2) they are widely distributed in nature, 3) an atomic structure (or at least a plausible model) is available for each of them, and 4) each is expressed in significant quantities in cells. These ABPs perform the following cellular functions: 1) they maintain the population of unassembled but assembly-ready actin monomers (profilin), 2) they regulate the state of polymerization of filaments (ADF/cofilin, profilin), 3) they bind to and block the growing ends of actin filaments (gelsolin), 4) they nucleate actin assembly (gelsolin, Arp2/3, cofilin), 5) they sever actin filaments (gelsolin, ADF/cofilin), 6) they bind to the sides of actin filaments (gelsolin, Arp2/3), and 7) they cross-link actin filaments (Arp2/3). Some of these ABPs are essential, whereas others may form regulatory ternary complexes. Some play crucial roles in human disorders, and for all of them, there are good reasons why investigations into their structures and functions should continue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-473
Number of pages41
JournalPhysiological Reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2003
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Actin binding proteins: regulation of cytoskeletal microfilaments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this