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Actin filaments, cellular 'workhorses,' caught in action

Date:
May 2, 2011
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
Scientists have succeeded in showing the breakup of actin filaments, the thread-like structures inside cells that are crucial to their movement, maintenance and division.

Thread-like actin filaments, strong as commercial plastic, are the muscular workhorses of our cells -- pushing on membranes to move cells to the proper location within tissues and applying pressure within the interior to keep all working parts of the cell where they need to be. These filaments do their jobs through a mysterious process of continual splitting and reassembly. Filament ends are marked by red and green arrows and the severing events are indicated by pink arrows and yellow dots. The images answer long-standing questions about just where these breaks occur.
Credit: Cristian Suarez

Scientists at Yale University and in Grenoble France have succeeded in creating a movie showing the breakup of actin filaments, the thread-like structures inside cells that are crucial to their movement, maintenance and division.

Actin filaments are the muscular workhorses of our cells -- pushing on membranes to move cells to the proper location within tissues and applying pressure within the interior to keep all working parts of the cell where they need to be. These filaments do their jobs through a mysterious process of continual splitting and reassembly.

Actin filaments are assembled and disassembled in a complex series of molecular events, known to be influenced by the protein cofilin. However, it was not known exactly where these breaks occur along the filaments, made up of actins monomer, which are as strong as commercial plastic.

Enrique De La Cruz, associate professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale, and his French colleagues used fluorescent stains of cofilin which enabled them to create movies of this molecular disassembly. They used technology called total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy peer into the inner workings of the cell.

The work is published in the April 28 issue of Current Biology.

View video.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Yale University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Cristian Suarez, Jérémy Roland, Rajaa Boujemaa-Paterski, Hyeran Kang, Brannon R. McCullough, Anne-Cécile Reymann, Christophe Guérin, Jean-Louis Martiel, Enrique M. De La Cruz, Laurent Blanchoin. Cofilin Tunes the Nucleotide State of Actin Filaments and Severs at Bare and Decorated Segment Boundaries. Current Biology, 28 April 2011 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.03.064

Cite This Page:

Yale University. "Actin filaments, cellular 'workhorses,' caught in action." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110428123942.htm>.
Yale University. (2011, May 2). Actin filaments, cellular 'workhorses,' caught in action. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110428123942.htm
Yale University. "Actin filaments, cellular 'workhorses,' caught in action." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110428123942.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

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