Cytoskeletal remodeling in leukocyte function

Curr Opin Hematol. 2004 Jan;11(1):15-24. doi: 10.1097/00062752-200401000-00004.


Purpose of review: This review focuses on recent developments in understanding the roles and regulation of the cytoskeleton in the function of leukocytes.

Recent findings: New studies have shed light on the regulation and dynamics of actin and microtubules in leukocytes relevant both to cell motility generally and to immune function specifically. The roles of cytoskeletal dynamics in processes such as cell activation, cell migration, and phagocytosis are being elucidated. Dramatic progress has been made recently in understanding the mechanisms of leukocyte directional sensing, polarization, and chemotaxis.

Summary: Leukocytes need to be activated, polarize, change shape, move, or phagocytose in response to their environment. Leukocytes accomplish these processes by remodeling their cytoskeleton, the active musculoskeletal system of the cell that is not just the ultimate effector of motile responses but is also a dynamic framework for subcellular organization and regional signaling. Active areas of research include the direct and indirect reciprocal interactions between the cytoskeleton and the membrane and among cytoskeletal elements. The pervasive and multi-layered roles played by small GTPases of the Rho family and phosphoinositides in leukocyte function are also becoming clearer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / physiology*
  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Chemotaxis
  • Chemotaxis, Leukocyte
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes / physiology*
  • Leukocytes / ultrastructure
  • Phagocytosis
  • Signal Transduction
  • rac GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology


  • Actins
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • rac GTP-Binding Proteins
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins