Proteins of the ADF/cofilin family: essential regulators of actin dynamics

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 1999;15:185-230. doi: 10.1146/annurev.cellbio.15.1.185.


Ubiquitous among eukaryotes, the ADF/cofilins are essential proteins responsible for the high turnover rates of actin filaments in vivo. In vertebrates, ADF and cofilin are products of different genes. Both bind to F-actin cooperatively and induce a twist in the actin filament that results in the loss of the phalloidin-binding site. This conformational change may be responsible for the enhancement of the off rate of subunits at the minus end of ADF/cofilin-decorated filaments and for the weak filament-severing activity. Binding of ADF/cofilin is competitive with tropomyosin. Other regulatory mechanisms in animal cells include binding of phosphoinositides, phosphorylation by LIM kinases on a single serine, and changes in pH. Although vertebrate ADF/cofilins contain a nuclear localization sequence, they are usually concentrated in regions containing dynamic actin pools, such as the leading edge of migrating cells and neuronal growth cones. ADF/cofilins are essential for cytokinesis, phagocytosis, fluid phase endocytosis, and other cellular processes dependent upon actin dynamics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actin Depolymerizing Factors
  • Actins / metabolism*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Destrin
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Fluid / metabolism
  • Intracellular Fluid / physiology
  • Kidney Diseases / pathology
  • Microfilament Proteins / chemistry
  • Microfilament Proteins / classification
  • Microfilament Proteins / genetics
  • Microfilament Proteins / physiology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases
  • Williams Syndrome / pathology


  • Actin Depolymerizing Factors
  • Actins
  • DSTN protein, human
  • Destrin
  • Microfilament Proteins